CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Officials in the Mountain State have come up with a new way to showcase what the governor calls one of the state’s “best-kept secrets.”
West Virginia Governor Jim Justice and the West Virginia Department of Tourism have launched a new program, the West Virginia Chef Ambassador Program, to showcase talented chefs from across the state and promote the Mountain State’s culinary innovation, farm-to-table experiences and growing agritourism industry.
“West Virginia’s culinary industry is one of our state’s best-kept secrets,” 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.”
The governor’s office says nominations for the inaugural class of West Virginia Chef Ambassador Program chef ambassadors are officially open. The Department of Tourism will administer the program along with the top nine chefs to promote dining as well as Appalachian cuisine.
“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.
Justice’s office says the chef ambassadors will serve a one-year term. They will be selected based on a set of evaluation criteria that includes their years of experience in the foodservice industry, their innovation and culinary excellence in the workplace, a demonstration of leadership in their local community and support of West Virginia’s agriculture industry.
“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.
The chef ambassadors will also have several new responsibilities to help grow the state’s foodservice industry, officials say. They will have the opportunities to host educational seminars for food service personnel and work with travel writers to promote the different regions of the state as culinary destinations.
“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 says they will be accepting nominations for the program through August 3. For more information on the West Virginia Chef Ambassador Program or to nominate a local chef from your area, visit the Department of Tourism’s website.