JUN 2017

ConventionSouth magazine is the leading resource for meeting planners who book all types of events, conventions, conferences and group travel in the south.

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J U N E 2 0 1 7 ⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 25 THE SOUTH'S FOODIE TRENDS All generations of travelers "share the same passion for locally contextual dining ex- periences," according to a 2016 trend survey by Skift, which provides media, insights and marketing to key sectors of the travel industry. The report "Food Tourism Strategies to Drive Destination Spending," included input from more than 2,000 travelers. The growing interest in local cuisine comes as no surprise to Robyn Bridges, vice-president of Alabama's Auburn-Opelika Tourism Bureau, who has seen the trend take hold in her area. She explained the value of locally-sourced food and drink. "There's a growing movement that's trans- forming what we put into our mouths," she said. "Connecting food producers to those who consume it in the same geographic area has shown not only economic benefits, but also positive social, environmental and health im- pacts. And it just plain tastes better." She described the Auburn-Opelika area as the proud home of a variety of growers and producers of everything from vegetables and grains to meat and seafood. "Our independent and chef-owned restaurants strive to match their menu offerings to the latest harvest," Bridges said. "From Auburn University Fisher- ies' fresh fish and shrimp to grains and produce from a dozen local farms, the bounty of the season in the creative hands of local chefs en- sures that the complex, traditional and unique flavors of the deep South are presented in an authentic and exceptional fashion." Acre Restaurant is among the Auburn restau- rants that showcases the sustainable ingredi- ents provided by local farmers and fisherman. David Bancroft, executive chef and partner, tends three on-site gardens, using the seasonal harvest to create delicious offerings which change daily. One reason barbecue fans love meeting in the Greenville (N.C.) area is because they can enjoy Eastern North Carolina-style barbe- cue, which traditionally features a whole hog smoked over wood, then pulled, chopped, and doused in a tangy vinegar and pepper-based sauce, according to Sierra Jones, communica- tions manager for the Greenville-Pitt County CVB. "Our legendary barbecue joints include: Skylight Inn, Bum's Restaurant, B's Barbecue, and Jack Cobb & Son Barbecue, as well as the new Sam Jones BBQ." She added that many of the area's inde- pendently-owned restaurants feature menus and bars offering locally grown, raised, and made produce, meats, beverages and products. These include Starlight Café & Farm, Dickin- son Avenue Public House, The Scullery Coffee Shop & Creamery, The Villedge Wood-Fired Kitchen & Bar, and Simply Natural Creamery & Jersey Farm. Chefs and meeting professionals around the South offer a number of additional examples of the local food trend. Todd Rogers, corporate executive chef for St. Joe Club & Resorts, which includes the Watercolor Inn & Resort in Santa Rosa Beach, Fla., said he works to create lasting dining memories by using ingredients sourced from within 100 miles of the property. "I make sure to find the finest local, seasonal and sustainable ingredients available in order to produce modern, regional or classical dishes that are intense in flavor and beautiful to the eyes, creating a culinary experience corporate guests will be sure to remember," he said. The local beer selection, along with bar- rel-aged cocktails and a laid-back vibe, have helped make Loflin Yard a popular downtown Memphis hot spot for out-of-town groups ► F&B Experience: the Dining Like A Local Below: St. Joe Club & Resorts Chef Todd Rogers Right top: Auburn Diver Scallops Right bottom: Sam Jones BBQ in Greenville, N.C. St. Joe Club & Resorts

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