Chapel Hill’s TerraVITA festival is quickly building a network for chefs, farmers and artisan beverage producers looking for local food providers.
The third annual TerraVITA, meaning “life of the Earth,” brought together North Carolina’s best experts in sustainable food and beverage for guest speakers, workshops, chef demonstrations and tastings.
Events, which took place all across Chapel Hill from Thursday to Saturday, drew in crowds of more than 600 total.
Adam Rose, executive chef of Il Palio at The Siena Hotel on East Franklin Street, participated in each of the weekend’s four food events.
Rose, who used mostly organic products from local farms at the events, said events like TerraVITA connect chefs like himself with local producers.
“Every year we get better at finding our sources. Sustainable, organic, wholesome ingredients is our top priority,” he said.
“I mean, I can get a sturgeon caviar from North Carolina. It’s beautiful. Who would have ever thought?”
Janet Elbetri, owner of Sandwhich on West Franklin Street, said her restaurant also makes it a priority to use local and sustainable foods.
She said the bread the restaurant uses comes from Weaver Street Market in Carrboro and the produce is locally raised and sustainable.
Elbetri also stressed the importance of the connections she has made while participating in TerraVITA the past two years.
“It takes a village to really support your state and support agriculture and to really do it right,” she said.
Beginning with the Chefs’ Harvest Potluck fundraising dinner on Thursday, the festivities concluded with the weekend’s main event — the Grand Tasting on the Green at Southern Village on Saturday.
Ticket sales and a silent auction brought in an estimated $10,000, which will fund renovations to the Carrboro Farmers’ Market and the local hunger relief organization TABLE.
Colleen Minton, the founder and coordinator of TerraVITA, said many of the 50 participating restaurants were brought to her attention via word of mouth.
“They’re kind of off the beaten path, and I love giving heightened visibility to restaurants like that,” she said.
“It’s kind of a cool opportunity to expose folks who may not have come in contact with them any other way.”
Restaurant owners, including a pair of chocolatiers who arrived from Asheville, came from all parts of the state.
Jael and Dan Rattigan, owners of French Broad Chocolates, said they were invited to participate after Minton learned of their commitment to using organic products and local sources of ingredients.
“It’s really the foundation,” said Jael Rattigan. “It’s our personal value, so our business is a reflection of that.”
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