Latinx Food Professionals Gather for Culinary Conversations

A Spanish-language event featuring Hispanic restaurant and food business owners will take place on October 5. The Spanish-language roundtable, “Culinary Conversations,” is the first event of its kind. Growers, producers, chefs, bartenders, restaurateurs and other food entrepreneurs will come together to strengthen the Grand Rapids regional food system.

Designed as a networking and educational event, Culinary Conversations was born out of a partnership involving Start Garden, Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women, the Michigan State University Extension Office and the Downtown Market, which launched the concept.

“One thing that is unique about this event is that there will be no translations, subtitles or performers in attendance,” said Mimi Fritz, President and CEO of Downtown Market. “It’s hard for people to tell their true story if they have to worry about how it’s translated, and the goal is to make sure our panelists and guests can share their struggles, successes and experiences. ideas in their mother tongue without this barrier.”

According to the National Restaurant Association, 40% of restaurants are minority-owned, 14% of which are Hispanic and Latino. These statistics demonstrate the need for peer-to-peer collaboration among 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, owner and chef of El Caribe and Paola R. Mendivil, vice president of banquets at El Granjero Mexican Grill & Grow.

The panel will be moderated by Jorge Gonzalez, director of Start Garden.

“This food conversations event highlights the huge role that Hispanic and Latino entrepreneurs play in our local food culture and food system,” Gonzales said. “Their work draws on a rich and diverse cultural heritage, by influencing local agriculture and supply chain through their purchasing decisions, they have changed the way we eat and the way we embrace and let’s all encourage cultural diversity in West Michigan.”

The Culinary Conversations take place October 5 from 5-7:30 p.m. at Rosebud/Lions & Rabbits, 1264 Plainfield Ave NE, Grand Rapids. Register online here.

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