Late last year in Madison, Wisconsin, 26 chefs got together with 26 local food purveyors to participate in a meeting that was eerily like speed dating. As reported in the pages of Food Arts (sorry, story not available online), the meeting was brokered by REAP (Research, Education, Action, and Policy on Food Group), an organization whose slogan is “Buy Fresh Buy Local Southern Wisconsin.”
The genius of the REAP set-up is that each table (two purveyors and two chefs) was given a scant 10 minutes to chat before a bell rang and chefs rotated to the next station.
According to REAP project coordinator Rachel Armstrong, ‘There were chefs who discovered products like Scottish highland cattle, which they had no idea were being raised here in Wisconsin. There were no sales at the event — that wasn’t its purpose. It was to inform chefs of what’s available.’
Next year’s meeting will have to be held in a bigger hall, according to Armstrong. In the meantime, Wisconsin chefs and gourmets can busy themselves with the REAP food atlas.