A Spanish language event that highlights Hispanic restaurant and food business owners will take place Oct. 5. The Spanish language panel discussion, “Culinary Conversations,” is the first event of its type. Growers, producers, chefs, bartenders, restaurant owners and other food business entrepreneurs will come together to strengthen Grand Rapids’ regional food system.
Intended as a networking and educational event, Culinary Conversations came about via a partnership that involves Start Garden, Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women, the Michigan State University Extension office and the Downtown Market, which spearheaded the concept.
“One thing that’s unique about this event is that there will be no translations, subtitles or interpreters present,” said Mimi Fritz, president and CEO of the Downtown Market. “It’s difficult for people to tell their true stories if they have to worry about how it’s translated, and the goal is to ensure that our panelists and guests can share their struggles, successes and ideas in their native language without that barrier.”
According to the National Restaurant Association, 40% of restaurants are owned by minorities, 14% of which are Hispanic and Latino-owned. These statistics demonstrate the need for the peer-to-peer collaboration of Spanish speaking food industry professionals.
Challenges, struggles and successes will be discussed and advice on how to be a food entrepreneur in the region will be given by four food industry panelists. Panel guests include Oswaldo Córdova, owner of El Globo; Dina E. Suarez, owner of Restaurante & Pupuseria El Salvador; Gilma DeLaCruz, El Caribe owner and chef and Paola R. Mendivil, VP of banquets at El Granjero Mexican Grill & Grow.
The panel will be moderated by Jorge Gonzalez, Director at Start Garden.
“This Culinary Conversations event highlights the enormous role that Hispanic and Latino entrepreneurs are playing in our local food culture and food system,” said Gonzales. “Their work is building upon a rich and diverse cultural legacy, by influencing local agriculture and supply chain through their buying decisions, they’ve changed how we eat and how we all embrace and encourage cultural diversity in West Michigan.”
Culinary Conversations takes place Oct. 5, 5-7:30 p.m. at Rosebud/Lions & Rabbits, 1264 Plainfield Ave NE, Grand Rapids. Register online here.