Feast Down East held its eighth annual Local Food Conference on Friday at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, honoring chef Sam Cahoon of Savorez with this year’s Agrarian Stewardship Award.
The award is given each year to a chef, a farmer and a community champion for their contributions to the local food movement. Other recipients of this year’s award included Jennifer and Vernon Britt of Britt Farms and Hattie McIver of the Wilmington Housing Authority.
Cahoon, a Wilmington native, said Feast Down East has played a major role in his growth as a chef and restaurant owner, both in terms of the quality of the food that has been provided, and the relationships that have been facilitated.
“It is such a huge honor, especially considering the chefs that have received it before me,” Cahoon said.
Past recipients include chefs Craig Love of Surf House Oyster Bar, Keith Rhodes of Catch and Catch the Food Truck and Jameson Chavez of manna.
“Feast Down East allowed me as a young chef to connect with so many local farmers and products, and it continues to provide us with so many staple ingredients on our menus,” Cahoon said. “It is so important that Feast remains an active part of our culinary scene, especially considering it’s a ‘one-stop-shop’ for so many local farmers, many of whom I simply wouldn't be able to meet or purchase through. I hope both farmers and chefs continue to support the program, as it remains vital to both sides.”
The focus of this year’s conference was on educating the public on the work of the Cape Fear Food Council. Facilitated breakout sessions allowed participants to learn about the council’s current work of identifying priority areas for advocacy, and to focus in on the council’s four committees: production and processing; distribution; consumer access; and waste reduction and resource recovery.
“This format of breakout sessions was a great opportunity for us to focus on things we are doing and could be doing better, or aren’t doing yet,” said Feast Down East executive director Sarah Daniels.
The conference also included breakfast and lunch prepared by chef Ryan Andress and his culinary team from UNCW dining. The meals were prepared with products and foods sourced from over a dozen local producers through Feast Down East.
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