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Seth Resler is the producer of the 2014 Taste Trekkers Food & Travel Expo, which returns to Providence on October 3rd through the 5th. We asked him a few questions . . .
1. What happens at the Taste Trekkers Food & Travel Expo?
The Taste Trekkers Expo is an opportunity for people to try foods from different places around the world. This year, that includes Bolivia, Canada, France, Greece, Italy, New Zealand, Peru, and Spain. But there are also foods from a lot of places here in the United States, including Maine, Miami, New York City, North Carolina, Vermont, and more.
But this is about more than just tasting the food. It’s also an opportunity to learn about the cuisines of different regions. You’ll hear chefs, farmers, brewers, artisan food producers, and others talk about what makes the dishes from their region unique. If you are the type of person who loves to talk about food, we are going to give you a lot to talk about.
2. Can you walk us through the schedule?
Sure. We kick it off with Industry Day at Johnson & Wales University on Friday, October 3rd. This day is for anyone in the food, travel, or tourism industries. We’ll start with a series of ten-minute talks on a range of different topics, including culinary travel writing, kitchen incubators, and how to run a food tour. Then Gail Ciapma, the Food Editor of The Providence Journal, will host a panel discussion on food tourism. Finally, we’ll head over to The Dorrance for a networking reception hosted by our friends at Deep Eddy Vodka, Foolproof Brewing, and Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyard.
Saturday is the main event at the Providence Biltmore. Anybody who loves food and loves to travel is welcome. We’ll start with a series of ten-minute talks about cuisines from different regions. Then we break into groups for three rounds of sessions. The sessions are longer, in-depth demonstrations and tastings of dishes from different regions. They cover everywhere from Cape Cod to New Zealand, and everything from wine to wood-fired ovens. Finally, everybody returns to the Grand Ballroom for the Hope & Main Tasting Pavilion. Here, people will get to taste food and drink from dozens of local restaurants and food producers, like Narragansett Creamery, Sons of Liberty, and DeWolf Tavern.
Saturday evening, the Culinary Arts Museum at Johnson & Wales University has extended its hours so Expo attendees can come check out the new “Food on the Move” exhibit.
3. There’s also a scavenger hunt on Sunday. Can you tell us about that?
On Sunday, October 5th, we are hosting the Eat & Run Scavenger Hunt throughout downcity Providence. Teams will compete for hundreds of dollars in prizes. It starts at noon at the Arcade Providence. Teams will get a list of clues to foodie locations around the city. They’ll need to walk to each destination and take a selfie in front of the place. The first team back to the Cable Car Cinema with the most selfies from the correct locations will win the prize.
Finally, we’ll wrap up the whole weekend with the New England premiere of the documentary, Farm-City, State, which explores the local food scene in Austin.
4. Why did you decide to host this event in Providence?
First and foremost, Providence has a great food scene. Between the heritage of Federal Hill, the excitement of a new crop of restauranteurs, and the excellence coming out of Johnson & Wales, you’ve got a very exciting food community. But there’s a lot more than that. As you know, a number of new breweries and distilleries have popped up in recent years, the Hope & Main kitchen incubator is opening in Warren, the Culinary Arts Museum just reorganized its collection and has re-opened, and I know you’re working on bringing a big market to the area. It just feels like Providence is really coming into its own as a culinary destination.
We’re also hosting the Expo in Providence because I have a lot of personal ties to the city. I live on the west coast now, but I graduated from Brown University. I used to DJ at Lupo’s, I was the Program Director at 95.5 WBRU, and I used to run a lot of restaurant and bartending events in this city. So Providence will always feel like a second home to me, and I love being able to bring this event back here.
5. Are there any speakers that you’re particularly excited to see?
That’s hard, because they’re all so good. And there are also several that I haven’t seen yet because they’re joining us for the first time. But there are a number that I have had the opportunity to interview for my Find Dining podcast, so I know they’re fantastic:
Chef Jose Duarte of Taranta in Boston is fascinating. This guy leads culinary expeditions through the jungles of Peru…for families with little kids! So he’ll have amazing stories to tell at the Expo.
I could listen to Marina Marchese talk about bees and honey for days. I always thought of honey as a one-flavor-fits-all condiment, like ketchup, but of course it isn’t. The local geography has a huge influence on the flavors of different honeys, and Marina is returning this year to lead a session on how to begin honey tasting.
Chef Cesin Curi of Los Andes in Providence is a rock star. The first time I ever had ceviche was in his restaurant, and I’ve been in love with it ever since.
Elle Armon-Jones wins the award for the longest commute — she’s coming all the way from New Zealand to lead one of our sessions. I think she’s going to teach us how to roast Hobbit.
And on Industry Day, there’s a doctoral student from Brown named Emily Contois who is going to talk about the marketing plan to bring Vegemite from Australia to America, which obviously failed miserably. I’m strangely excited to hear about that!
The Taste Trekkers Food & Travel Expo returns to the Providence October 3rd through the 5th. For more information, please visit http://tastetrekkers.com/expo/.
You can also watch the preview for this year’s Expo below.