CHARLESTON, WV (STL.News) Gov. Jim Justice, in partnership with the West Virginia Department of Tourism, today launched the West Virginia Chef Ambassador Program. The program will showcase talented chefs across the Mountain State to promote West Virginia’s culinary innovation, farm-to-table experiences, and growing agritourism industry.
Nominations are now open for this year’s inaugural class of chef ambassadors.
“West Virginia’s culinary industry is one of our state’s best-kept secrets,” Gov. Justice said. “It’s time we take the flavors we all know and love—and the chefs behind our favorite local dishes—and shine a spotlight on the great things happening across the Mountain State.”
Administered through the Department of Tourism, this new culinary initiative will serve as a partnership between the Department and the top nine chefs to promote dining and Appalachian cuisine.
Ambassadors will be selected to serve a one-year term based on a set of evaluation criteria, such as years of experience in the foodservice industry, demonstration of leadership within the local community, innovation and culinary excellence in the workplace, and support of West Virginia agriculture.
“Each year, travelers spend more than $1.1 billion within our foodservice industry. Whether visitors are staying for a week or just passing through, our local flavors are often one of the first and most memorable experiences visitors have while traveling our country roads,” said West Virginia Department of Tourism Secretary Chelsea Ruby.
“We have some amazing local chefs creating unforgettable experiences for visitors, and we want them to help us tell our story. By adding them into our promotions, we believe we can elevate this thriving industry and foster new innovation, new flavors, and new experiences for visitors and residents alike,” Ruby added.
In addition to receiving their well-earned title of chef ambassador, selected chefs will have several roles and responsibilities—all of which are designed to cultivate and grow West Virginia’s foodservice industry.
Each ambassador will be selected to represent a specific travel region in a myriad of ways—from hosting educational seminars for food service personnel to working alongside travel writers to promote and position West Virginia as a must-see culinary destination.
“This is such an incredible opportunity for us to tell our stories and showcase the talent found in the mountains of West Virginia. I encourage all West Virginians to take a moment and nominate their favorite chef today,” Gov. Justice said. “I know those selected will help us tell our story and shine a light on West Virginia, and I can’t wait to meet them.”
The Department of Tourism is accepting nominations now through August 3.