Tuesday, January 15, 2019 from 5:00pm – 7:30pm

Culinary Conversations Kick Off Event: Creating Your Local Food Network

Hear three local food and beverage extraordinaires as they help us launch Culinary Conversations. Join Jenna Arcidiacono (Amore Trattoria), John Green (Founders Brewing and Revolution Farms), and Brian Harris (Green Collar Farms) as they share how critical community connections and local support have been to their success in the local food/beverage/agriculture industries. This panel presentation is moderated by Lisa Knight of the Urban League.



Jenna Arcidiacono began slinging chili dogs and root beers at the age of 14 in Kentwood. Jenna went on to earn a BFA at Michigan State University while gaining even more restaurant experience. Wanting to soak in as many styles of cooking as she could, Jenna moved to San Francisco where she met her husband Maurizio. Shortly after their marriage, the couple moved to Italy where Jenna learned recipes from her mother-in-law. After having two daughters and working in corporations, Jenna felt it was time to try to open her own trattoria. Amore Trattoria Italiana opened in July of 2010 and has won Best New Restaurant 2011, Grand Rapids Magazine; Restaurant of the Year 2012, Grand Rapids American Culinary Federation; Best European 2012, Grand Rapids Magazine; and Chef of the Year 2013, The Grand Rapids Press.

John is the Executive Chairman and Partner of Founders Brewing and has over 25 years of experience in finance, commercial real estate, and urban development. He is also the co-founder in Locus Development, where he earned a reputation for championing some of the most challenging projects in Grand Rapids, converting abandoned warehouses to residential, retail, and community living spaces. During John’s time with Founders, his key achievements have included planning and execution of the significant physical expansion of Founders’ brewhouse, production lines, cellar and taproom; and the company’s international launch and strategic growth in over a dozen countries. John sits on several boards, including the Downtown Market, Grand Valley State University Foundation, the Island School, and Grand Rapids Whitewater. He is also an investor in a number of startup companies and serves as Chairman of Cirkul (Tampa), Odyssey (NYC), and Revolution Farms (GR).

Brian Harris, formerly President and CEO of H & H Metal Source, was born and raised in southeastern Wisconsin. He graduated from Tufts University in `79 with a BS in Engineering Psychology. He then advanced through operations and marketing management roles at office furniture makers, The Knoll Group and at Steelcase North America. In 1996 he purchased the majority share of a small steel service center, H & H Metal Source, and retired in 2014 to pursue interests in controlled environment agriculture. He has since founded Green Collar Farms, LLC to demonstrate the possibilities and virtues of hyper-local CEA. Brian remains active in the community, most recently serving on the boards of Talent 2025, the Metropolitan YMCA, the Right Place Inc., the Economic Club, DGRI, the Downtown Market, and the Downtown Development Authority.

Lisa Knight is the Director of the Center for Health, Wellness and Youth at the Urban League of West Michigan. She has been employed at the Urban League for 6 years and holds a Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership from Cornerstone University and a degree in Criminal Justice from Ferris State University. Lisa is also facilitator for the Urban League in the REDI department, which has completed over 2000 presentations this year alone. Lisa opened a non-profit focused on mentoring using theater and cultural arts for youth. Lisa is also a professional actress and singer and has travelled across the nation performing in off-Broadway productions, performing for Holland America Cruise Lines, and local theaters.

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