FamilyFarmed’s 14th annual Good Food EXPO is coming up March 23-24 at Chicago’s UIC Forum. Make your plans now to attend the nation’s oldest trade and consumer event focused specifically on local and sustainable food. Tickets are on sale for the Friday, March 23 programming: The Good Food Trade Show: Production, Policy and Industry Exchange. These affordable tickets can be purchased on this linked page. The Good Food Festival, FamilyFarmed’s big annual public celebration of the fast-rising Good Food movement, will follow on Saturday, March 24.
The Good Food movement has gained major ground in recent years, driven by fast-rising consumer demand for better and healthier products. One tangible proof of that is in the growing community of investors who are helping Good Food companies start up and grow. One such company is Chicago’s Spiral Sun Ventures, whose tag line is “Investing In Healthy.” Spiral Sun works mainly with small, early-stage companies. The firm also is a friend of FamilyFarmed, and they exhibited at our 2017 Good Food EXPO. More than that, there are Spiral Sun clients who also are FamilyFarmed Good Food Accelerator Fellows or regular exhibitors at our Good Food Expo.
FamilyFarmed’s Annual Giving Campaign is under way, and to highlight the work we do to build a better food system, we are running a series of profiles of great businesses that have participated in our programs. Today we look at FamilyFarmed’s Good Food EXPO and Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference through the eyes of Luke Saunders of Farmer’s Fridge, the Chicago company whose fresh salad vending machines are changing the way eaters view self-service food options.
Everyone eats, and what you eat matters — which is why we at FamilyFarmed are proud of our work growing the availability of Good Food. In the coming weeks, we’ll share stories of the local food and farm entrepreneurs whose mission to produce Good Food has been served by FamilyFarmed, thanks to contributions from Good Foodies like you. We ask for your support so these programs thrive and we can continue to develop new and innovative Good Food initiatives in 2018.
When you go to a supermarket, everything seems so orderly, stocked neatly on shelves, in bins and in coolers. But behind the scenes, getting food from farm to factory to grocery store fridge — a process known as supply chain management — can be complicated and messy. While some of the bigger food businesses handle supply chain internally, many others, including smaller and start-up businesses turn to the expertise of consultants with years of experience. One of these is Will Madden, co-founder of Chicago-based Whole Brain Consulting. FamilyFarmed interview Will about his business’ origins, why food businesses need contract manufacturers, the biggest supply chain challenges… and why he made the highest bid for a CEO yacht cruise on the Chicago River and Lake Michigan that was a silent auction prize at last April’s Frontera 30th Anniversary Celebration.
“Just within the past 10 years, this industry has skyrocketed. Everything around this industry has completely changed. The consumers who shop this industry have changed. It’s no longer just the crunchy hipsters in Boulder.” That is how Anubhav (Anu) Goel described the fast-rising demand for Good Food at the start of his data-driven keynote speech at FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Accelerator Application Celebration at 1871 Chicago last week.
FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Business Accelerator (GFA) staged its annual Application Celebration and Networking Event at Chicago’s 1871 business incubator on Tuesday. It included a panel of four GFA graduates moderated by Scott Mandell, a program “supermentor” who founded hugely successful Enjoy Life Foods. And when Scott asked the alums about the biggest change in their businesses fostered by the Accelerator, the response by Mitch Wasserman of Full Belly Foods drew chuckles from the full-house audience.
FamilyFarmed salutes longtime associate Kim Bartko, and wishes her success, as she steps aside to focus on her new business venture: Outbound Lab, which seeks to advance the Good Food movement in the U.S. and around the world by forging partnerships between foreign food innovators and domestic food businesses.
An anniversary is an occasion for celebration. And that is just what Chicago’s Local Foods will be doing this Saturday (June 24) with its Tacos and Tiki Party to mark the 2nd anniversary of its retail store in the city’s Bucktown neighborhood. Anniversaries are also times for reflection, though. As CEO Andrew Lutsey looks back, he views the first two years as successful, but says that it has been a learning experience that has produced some changed expectations and priorities.
As part of its efforts to assist its small business associates, The Hatchery food business incubator held a pop-up market, sponsored by Groupon, at downtown Chicago’s Revival Food Hall on Saturday (June 17). So we dropped by to visit with a bunch of our food-making friends — and to purchase some of their delicious products, of course!
Visiting Growing Home’s urban farm would be a great field trip for FamilyFarmed wherever it was located. But Growing Home’s location, at 5814 S. Wood Street, and the social mission that it entails is what makes this nonprofit organization truly amazing: It is in the heart of West Englewood, a neighborhood of about 35,000 residents — nearly all African American — that has suffered from decades of job and population loss, economic decline and high crime rates.
Any list of hot commodities in Chicago would have to include the Chicago Cubs, who last year won baseball’s World Series for the first time in 108 years; a world-renowned restaurant community driven largely by chefs who believe in Good Food movement principles and community engagement; and a craft beer scene that has boomed just within the past few years. So it wasn’t a coincidence that the first major event held at The Park at Wrigley — the new event space and community asset built by the team owners right next to historic 103-year-old Wrigley Field — was called Craft and Cuisine.
Spending time with leading Good Food business executives — at a gorgeous suburban Chicago home or a yacht cruise on Lake Michigan — sounds like reason enough to bid on two of the headline prizes in the Frontera 30th Anniversary Celebration’s online silent auction. But if you have Good Food business interests and want to learn more about this fast-growing sector that is building a better food system for America, how can you pass up the opportunity to learn from (while partying with) three giants of the Good Food industry: Bill Weiland of Presence Marketing, Brandon Barnholt of KeHe Distributors, and Tony Olson of SPINS, the leading data analyst for the natural and organic products industry.
Jason Hammel of the critically acclaimed Lula Café is a rarity among Chicago’s top chefs, in that he did not learn the craft in the kitchens of culinary legends. Jason is essentially self-taught. But he counts Chicago legends such as Rick Bayless, Paul Kahan and Matthias Merges as his role models and mentors. Like them, he has played a major role in sourcing from local and regional farmers. We are honored to have Jason as a participating chef at the Frontera 30th Anniversary Celebration, a joint fundraiser for Chef Rick Bayless‘ Frontera Farmer Foundation and FamilyFarmed, which will be held at The Art Institute of Chicago on Sunday, April 30.
The record attendance at FamilyFarmed’s 2017 Good Food Festival & Conference in Chicago underscored important points about the Good Food movement’s growing momentum. More than 7,500 people attended the 13th Good Food Festival & Conference, held March 16-18 at the UIC Forum on the University of Illinois at Chicago campus.
Mindy Segal is a legend among pastry chefs, both in her home city of Chicago and nationally. The winner of the 2012 James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef, she has delighted customers at Mindy’s HotChocolate — her full-service restaurant in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood — for 12 years. for many years has made cakes for all of Rick Bayless’ family’s special occasions. So she was an obvious choice to participate in the Frontera 30th Anniversary Celebration, a joint fundraiser for Chef Rick Bayless‘ Frontera Farmer Foundation and FamilyFarmed, which will be held at The Art Institute of Chicago on Sunday, April 30.
Matthias Merges is one of the most important figures in the rise of Chicago to its status as a world-class culinary capital. after a 14-year stint at Charlie Trotter’s — the last 12 of those at the world-renowned restaurant’s chef de cuisine — Matthias went out his own in 2010, and soon after opened Yusho, focused on Japanese street food, and it quickly became the flagship of his extensive Folkart restaurant group. Matthias will be a participating chef at the Frontera 30th Anniversary Celebration fundraiser on April 30 at The Art Institute of Chicago
Many people who have worked in Chef Rick Bayless’ kitchen since he opened Frontera Grill 30 years ago have gone on to their own success as chefs and restaurateurs. But among those who have worked for Rick, few — if any — have benefited more than Anselmo Ramirez, chef-owner of Chicago’s popular Ixcateco Grill, where he combines the Mexican food knowledge he gained from his grandmother with the restaurant craft he learned while working for 13 years in Rick Bayless’ kitchens… starting as a 17-year-old dishwasher. Anselmo will participate in the Frontera 30th Anniversary Celebration fundraiser on April 30 at The Art Institute of Chicago.
We often highlight the potential for Good Food businesses to revitalize economically challenged communities and improve the lives of those who live there. Few businesses combine both of those elements in one person as much as Chicago’s Westside Bee Boyz. Founder Thad Smith’s beekeeping and honey company is still quite small, but he has big dreams for the company. He views it as a platform for community and young entrepreneur development in North Lawndale and other troubled communities in Chicago.
FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference, coming up on Thursday, is Chicago’s must-attend event of the year for investors, retailers, wholesalers, distributors and others who want a heads up about the region’s most promising Good Food businesses and products. And the centerpieces of this world-class networking event are the business pitch event and the Financing Fair.