Farmers and Chefs Mingling at the Montelucia

Arizona farmers, ranchers, cheese makers and chefs will be hanging out at the InterContintenal Montelucia Resort in Scottsdale this afternoon for the Phoenix Farmer Chef Connection. The second annual conference is a networking bonanza for the 150 or so slow food types who will be there.

"The whole idea is to connect up our local producers, be it farmers or ranchers, with local buyers," says Pamela Hamilton, the publisher and editor of Edible Phoenix Magazine, one of the event's organizers, along with Slow Food Phoenix.

Conference panels have topics like, "Marketing Your Sustainable Advantage: Farmers and Chefs Working Together to Grow Customers."

Mmmmkay. But what does this mean for your average diner?

"They should be asking their chef whether they attended the Farmer Chef Connection and what local products they have on their menu," Hamilton says.

The event is not really open to the public, which is too bad when you take a look at the scrumptious menu prepared for the opening reception. It includes chilled melon soup, roasted butternut squash galette, and goat cheese and caramelized onion tart -- all locally sourced. But even chefs and farmers deserve to have a chance to mingle and enjoy the fruits of their labor from time to time.

The conference runs from 2 to 5pm today at the Montelucia. Online registration is closed, but according to the event's Web site, there may be walk-in tickets available for interested chefs and buyers.

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