Walmart, FactoryMade, and James Beard Recognized Chefs' Innovative Marketing Initiatives to Support Local Farm to Table Movement
- by Melissa De Leon Chavez
SANTA MONICA, CA - It’s always exciting when companies decide to partner up for a fresh approach to business. FactoryMade, a Hollywood boutique incubator for television and lifestyle and consumer produce, is teaming up with Walmart and Haworth Marketing + Media. The goal for this new collaboration, referred to as Rediscovering America, is to showcase fresh, affordable, and locally grown produce to support farm-to-table efforts.
In the culinary pilot program, Walmart will work with five well-known local chefs who have been honored by the James Beard Foundation as Best Chef Award Semifinalists, as well as five farms from Charlotte, North Carolina; Richmond, Virginia; Tampa, Florida; Houston, Texas; and Atlanta, Georgia. These exciting steps into the culinary scene will be documented by FactoryMade in a series developed and produced by the incubator, Co-Founders of El Rey Network, and Executive Producers of Lucha Underground.
To build its fan-base even more, FactoryMade has also partnered with the New York Times best-selling cookbook author and restaurateur, Ayesha Curry, who is a Charlotte native and encourages local, organic farming in her own restaurants. She is stepping into her role with this partnership to shine a light on the farm-to-table movement.
“Our main impetus in bringing together Walmart and these creative, community-minded chefs was to shine a spotlight on their dual commitment to do good and do well,” said John Fogelman and Cristina Magno Patwa, Co-CEOs of FactoryMade. “In addition to celebrating their mission to use locally grown produce and their support of local farms, we wanted to highlight their commitment to their respective communities. As change-agent chefs, they bring an incredible diversity to the culinary space in terms of their backgrounds, points of view, and cooking techniques, as well as their take on how their work impacts those in their own backyards in the Mid-Atlantic, Great Lakes, South, Southeast and Southwest.”
According to a press release, Rediscovering America showcases many different kinds of restaurants, chefs, and produce:
Chef Brittanny Anderson
Metzger Bar & Butchery in Richmond, VA.
Ingredients: organic thyme from Shenandoah Growers of Harrisonburg, VA, in a unique strawberry tart with thyme shortbread, pink peppercorn, and elderflower.
Chef Anderson was a 2017 James Beard Award Semifinalist for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic and was a 2018 Iron Chef America contestant.
Chef Ferrell Alvarez
Rooster & the Till in Tampa, FL.
Ingredients: white, baby bella/cremini and portabella mushroom caps from Monterey Mushrooms of Zellwood, FL, in a crafted tartine of smoked mushrooms, duxelle, bleu cheese, balsamic gel, and dressed leaves.
Chef Alvarez was a 2017 James Beard Award Semifinalist for Best Chef: South and was the 2014 Best New Chef & Best New Restaurant from Creative Loafing.
Chef Anita Jaisinghani
Pondicheri Bake Lab + Shop in Houston, TX.
Ingredients: mini San Marzano tomatoes from Village Farms of Marfa, TX, in a Khichri & Soup.
Chef Jaisinghani was a 2012, 2017, and 2018 James Beard Award Semifinalist for Best Chef: Southwest. Pondicheri also made it to Eater’s The 38 Essential Restaurants of Texas in 2018 list.
Chef Rui Liu
Masterpiece in Atlanta, GA.
Ingredients: Vidalia sweet onions from Bland Farms of Glennville, GA, whenever onions are featured on the menu.
Chef Liu was a 2017 and 2018 James Beard Award Semifinalist for Best Chef: Southeast, and Masterpiece was 3rd in Atlanta Magazine’s 50 Best Restaurants in Atlanta in 2018.
Chef Gene Kato
Upstream in Charlotte, NC.
Ingredients: jalapeño peppers from Bailey Farms of Oxford, NC, thoughout his sushi offerings, including his Hamachi with pickled jalapeño and yuzu vinaigrette.
Chef Kato was a 2017 James Beard Award Semifinalist for Best Chef: Great Lakes and Upstream was named by Esquire Magazine’s John Mariani as one of the best new restaurants in the U.S.
“The James Beard Awards recognize talent wherever it lies across the entire spectrum of America’s dynamic food scene, from big cities to small towns, from beloved neighborhood joints to temples of gastronomy,” said Mitchell Davis, Chief Strategy Officer of the James Beard Foundation, who will emcee a launch event in Charlotte, NC. “Chefs, restaurants, farmers, and informed eaters help make America more vibrant and delicious for everyone, supporting our organization’s mantra that we all benefit from 'good food for good.'”
What makes this partnership so exciting is that the ingredients can be found in the convenience of Walmart stores. By using the ingredients found at Walmart, the program hopes to boost consumer interest in tasting the beauty in locally grown produce at the award-winning chefs’ neighborhood restaurants. Further, these items can be found in the chefs' dishes through the end of summer. In addition to the ability to try these items in a curation from the masters, consumers can find them in their local Walmart stores for their own culinary trials at home.
Social media, a stable go-to for building excitement around a happening campaign, will be colorful with beautifully created dishes as consumers and local influencers post images on Instagram and Facebook about the dishes and where to find the locally grown produce. FactoryMade has developed an initiative focusing on local voices that are authentic to the communities in order to build a grassroots following for produce items used in the dishes. The reason for this approach, the press release explains, is because consumers look to familiar and relatable influencers who know the cultures, right down to frequented family restaurants.
“Consumers have a real connection with these chefs and restaurants, who are authentic influencers in their communities,” said Ashley Gibbs, Senior Marketing Director at Walmart U.S. “We are thrilled they are sharing the message that fresh fruits and vegetables from local farms can be bought right in their local Walmart.”
So, the only question left for me to ask you is this: which restaurant will you be visiting?