‘Plate Local’ expo matches food buyers, suppliers

HARRINGTON — A new expo for producers and buyers in the food industry, “Plate Local: Buyer and Supplier Matchmaking Expo,” will be held Oct. 21 at Harrington Raceway & Casino’s Gold Room.

The free expo runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The event is part of Kent County Restaurant Week (Oct. 18-25), and is a collaborative effort between the Kent Economic Partnership’s Food Innovation District, the Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce, Harrington Raceway & Casino and Kent County Tourism.

The goal is to put those who produce, grow and sell local food and beverages (meat, produce, fruits, seafood, wine, beer and distilled spirits) face-to-face with local food buyers such as restaurants, farmers’ market coordinators and other potential food and beverage buyers.

“We are offering an exciting new opportunity for local businesses to meet one another and actually do business right on the expo floor,” said Hank Rosenberg, chief operating officer of hospitality for Harrington Raceway & Casino. “The expo is a new concept in Kent County that will match food and beverage producers with local buyers including restaurants, institutional buyers, farmers’ market coordinators and more.”

Food demonstrations and sampling by the Bonz Restaurant chefs will be a part of the event along with samplings of local wine, beer and spirits.

Mr. Rosenberg, who has been in the food business in Delaware for 35 years as a restaurateur and industry executive, said he understands firsthand how difficult it is for small business owners to find the necessary time to cultivate new suppliers. On the other side, he said, small farmers are great at what they do — growing crops — but they don’t always have local business contacts.

The expo will put more than 100 local buyers directly face-to-face with more than 35 local suppliers.

Harrington Raceway & Casino has become known as a leader in the “buy local” initiative, begun two years ago, Mr. Rosenberg said.

“Because of our buying power, we are able to spend $60,000 to $70,000 on a monthly basis, year-round, within our community,” he said. “Our local food and beverage suppliers benefit, our business benefits because the local pricing is very competitive, and our customers benefit because they are getting higher quality locally grown foods.

“Our goal is to stimulate the local agricultural and business industries, with a ‘let’s do more business locally’ event that gathers businesses and allows them to showcase products, explain backgrounds and histories, and develop local, lasting and profitable relationships,” said D.J. Silicato, director of food and beverage for Harrington Raceway & Casino.

Some of the producers who will be on hand to meet, talk and exhibit products include local farmers and producers as well as beverage industry representatives such as Haass Family Butcher Shop, Evans Farms, Vanderwende Farm Creamery, Kirby and Holloway, Lewes Dairy, Harvest Ridge Winery, Fordham & Dominion Brewery and Nassau Valley Vineyards.

The event is intended for food industry representatives (adults only please), and you must RSVP to attend by calling the chamber at 734-7513 by Oct. 16.

For additional information, contact Mr. Rosenberg at hrosenberg@harringtonraceway.com or 398-5319 or D.J. Silicato at djsilicato@harringtonraceway.com or 398-5112.

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