Let's Dish

When a local food manager put local farmers in touch with local chefs, things really started cooking.

Delaware farmers are good at what they do: growing produce. Delaware chefs are good at what they do: creating food. Together they would be great. Trouble is they are both bad at finding each other.

Well maybe not bad, just too busy doing what they do.  

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Mom-and-pop restaurants don’t have time to visit all the local producers, says DJ Silicato, director of food and beverage for Harrington Raceway & Casino. So he created The Plate Local: Buyer and Supplier Matchmaking Expo to change that.

The raceway spends $60,000 to $70,000 a month on local produce and goods. The food quality is better and the money stays in the local economy, Silicato says. He wanted smaller operations to enjoy the same advantages.

Held during Kent County Restaurant week in October 2015, the plate featured 27 local farmers and producers such as Haass’ Family Butcher Shop, Evans Farms, Vanderwende Farm Creamery, Lewes Dairy and Harvest Ridge Winery. They all came ready to show how unique they were, with items like sweet corn ice cream and scrapple vodka.

As a bonus, chefs from the raceway restaurants created dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, including dessert, and drinks using ingredients from the producers. Dishes like sliders marinated in local Oyster Stout and cocktails made with Espresso Vodka were on the menu.

Though restaurant owners and chefs were the obvious target, the producers found each other as well. “We’re always looking for ways to use local produce and local raw materials in our production,” says Michael Rasmussen, of Painted Stave Distilling in Smyrna.

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The 2016 Plate Local is in the works for October. Judging by the response he’s had already, Silicato thinks he might need to find a bigger room.

DJ Silicato, director of food and beverage at Harrington
Raceway & Casino, created an event that, among other
things, helps keep money in the local economy. 
(Photo by Scott Hewitt)

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