It was a palm-in-the-face kind of moment that led Seth Resler, a culinary enthusiast and social enterpriser, to realize Providence was the place to hold what he calls the nation’s first food-tourism conference.
“I literally had this moment. Of course we should do this in Providence,” Resler said. “It makes a lot of sense from a culinary standpoint but also because I have a lot of relationships [here].”
Though a native Californian, Resler has a long history with the Ocean State’s capital city, starting with his college years at Brown University and a professional career within the entertainment and events industry that eventually led him to start his Mystery Meet dinners – a kind of group blind date for “foodies” – in Boston that he now continues from his home in the San Francisco area.
He also conducts culinary-focused podcasts and through his culinary contacts he realized there was an assumption that the country’s best foodie cities were also its largest.
“[The assumption] is that it’s New York, San Francisco, Las Vegas, and that’s where all the big chefs are,” Resler said. “But Memphis has more than BBQ. St. Louis has some interesting things. Portland has all these food trucks. There’s just a lot of interesting stuff and I wanted to put something together to showcase that.”
So the idea for the Taste Trekkers Food Tourism Conference, happening Sept. 20-22, took hold.
Resler originally thought about heading back to Boston or staying put in San Francisco but was listening to a podcast when he heard Kristen Adamo, vice president of marketing and communications at the Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau, talking about marketing Providence as a great food city. That’s when he put palm to head.
The success of promoting Providence as a food-tourism destination, many involved with the conference said, can be attributed to a perfect blend of a rich culinary history, increased consumer awareness about food sources, the rising popularity of chefs due in part to popular television series, and an increasing consumer willingness to pay more for quality food.