Suppliers, restaurants create recipe for success at Plate Local

Kirby and Holloway sales associate Jack Jefferson tosses his spatula into the air as he prepares scrapple during the Plate Local expo. (Delaware State News photos/Dave Chambers)

Kirby and Holloway sales associate Jack Jefferson tosses his spatula into the air as he prepares scrapple during the Plate Local expo. (Delaware State News photos/Dave Chambers)

HARRINGTON — In an effort to encourage local restaurants to buy supplies locally, Harrington Raceway and Casino hosted “Plate Local: Buyer and Supplier Matchmaking Expo” on Wednesday to allow buyers and suppliers to form mutually beneficial relationships.

“This is a great opportunity to get our name out there and form relationships with new people and make sure those who work with us continue to buy from us,” said Len Rubin, president of Chincoteague Seafood Inc.

Chincoteague Seafood currently sells some of its products like canned clam chowder at big-box stores such as Wal-Mart in north Dover but said forming partnerships with big businesses can be expensive and time consuming.

“You have to come up with a big presentation, then take into account all the expenses that come with traveling out of state to corporate headquarters and to big expos,” he said. “But all the businesses here today can learn about us and know we are accessible.”

Kirby and Holloway, a Delaware-based meat provision service since 1947, also has worked with big businesses like Wal-Mart and Redner’s, but is looking for more local partners as well.

Bonz Restuarant executive chef Jason Ordway of Rehoboth Beach prepares Fall Fest scrapple sandwiches, which include peaches and onions.

Bonz Restuarant executive chef Jason Ordway of Rehoboth Beach prepares Fall Fest scrapple sandwiches, which include peaches and onions.

“We do work with some independent businesses like Jimmy’s Grille (in Bridgeville), but we’d like to do more,” Jack Jefferson said. “I think that interacting locally is always a good thing and since we are all from the same area, we are familiar with what other businesses want and need.”

Lewes Dairy, a full service fresh dairy provider since the 1920s, was on hand to meet local business owners.

“I’ve seen some familiar faces, so this is a chance to thank the people we already work with, but to also provide information to business owners we don’t know yet,” said Bobby Bell, sales director at Lewes Dairy. “We currently have partnerships with some local hotels, farmers markets and convenience stores, but we want more businesses to be aware of us.”

To show restaurant owners that cooking with all-local ingredients is not only possible but feasible for their businesses, chefs from Bonz restaurant did live cooking demonstrations using only local supplies.

The first dish on the menu was a scrapple sandwich topped with caramelized onions and peaches cooked in a peach wine and white balsamic reduction, topped with goat cheese and served on a croissant.

The breakfast sandwich was paired with a Bloody Mary concocted with Painted Stave’s scrapple vodka, crab-infused, house-made Bloody Mary mix garnished with a scrapple and shrimp skewer.

Aside from just demonstrating the dishes, the chefs also provided information on the cost of each course along

Chincoteague Seafood Co., Inc.. President Len Rubin hands out samples of  clam chowder.

Chincoteague Seafood Co., Inc.. President Len Rubin hands out samples of clam chowder.

with a suggested menu price to show that profits can still be made using a small, local supplier.

The demonstrations continued throughout the day with chefs whipping up lunch and dinner dishes with beverages to complement each.

“What a lot of people don’t realize is that the food they eat comes right here from farms right here,” said Jo Ellen Algier, owner of The Frozen Farmer.

She hopes to have more local businesses offering her frozen farm-fresh goodies such as ice pops, sorbet and ice cream.

“We work with Evans Farms and take some of the fruits and veggies that aren’t cosmetically perfect to sell and make healthy desserts,” Ms. Algier said. “So not only are we saving produce that would otherwise be wasted, we’re selling a great product.”

Painted Stave Distilling’s Ron Gomes, left, and Ross Sheridan pose during Wednesday’s Plate Local Expo at Harrington Raceway.

Painted Stave Distilling’s Ron Gomes, left, and Ross Sheridan pose during Wednesday’s Plate Local Expo at Harrington Raceway.

The Frozen Farmer has options for every dessert lover including gluten-free, lactose-free and vegan-friendly choices.

In addition to food suppliers, beverage suppliers were also on hand offering samples and talking to potential business partners.

“It’s really all about growing our businesses and making more people aware of our brand,” said Ron Gomes of Painted Stave Distilling.

The distillery’s products recently were made available at Harrington Raceway & Casino.

“Some people may see working in partnership with other small businesses as competition but the truth is no one can do it on their own,” Mr. Gomes said. “We can grow our local businesses together, but it takes unique people to be willing to help one another.”

Reach staff writer Ashton Brown at abrown@newszap.com. Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.

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