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"Culinary Conversations" Focusing on Food Failures at June 18 Meetup

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The Grand Rapids Downtown Market will host its third Culinary Conversations Meetup on June 18 at 5 p.m., focusing on “Food Failures.” The free event features four local food industry mavens, from the startup and corporate world, discussing their own failed food projects and how they moved past them.

Event Registration

Culinary Conversations: Food Failures is a FREE event. Sign up here:

The Grand Rapids Downtown Market will host its third Culinary Conversations Meetup on June 18 at 5 p.m., focusing on “Food Failures.” The free event features four local food industry mavens, from the startup and corporate world, discussing their own failed food projects and how they moved past them. 

Speakers for “Food Failures” include Jessica Ann Tyson, owner of Candied Yam; Mark Peters, Butterball Farms CEO;  Cory Davis, owner of Daddy Pete’s BBQ and Shelby Kibler, owner of Field & Fire. Dexter Dakota, consultant and strategist at Big Damn Cliff Restaurant Consulting, will moderate.

“We are groomed to think of failures as negative events, but experimentation is a key ingredient of startup culture, and that makes failure an essential part of growing as an entrepreneur,” said Laurie Supinski, Start Garden program manager. “Failure happens, and those missteps are how entrepreneurs figure out what does work, by first figuring out what doesn’t. Dexter and our panelists will dig into the ways failure defined their work and made them better business owners.”

Culinary Conversations is a peer-to-peer collaboration and networking group for West Michigan’s food industry professionals, including growers, producers, chefs, bartenders, restaurant owners, entrepreneurs and others, intended to strengthen Grand Rapids’ regional food system. Led by the Downtown Market, Culinary Conversations is a unique partnership between Start Garden, GROW and Michigan State University Extension. Each Meetup includes networking and educational opportunities. 

In food culture, our biggest mistakes often result in the greatest innovations—new recipes, new packaging, new ways to reach hungry consumers,” said Mimi Fritz, president and CEO of the Downtown Market. “Successful entrepreneurs are those who are willing to listen to their customers or stakeholders and use that feedback to adapt.”

Link to register for the event is online at:

Speaker schedule: 

5:30pm: Introductions from Kelli Smith, business development specialist at GROW, and moderator Dexter Dakota
5:45pm: Jessica Ann Tyson
6:00pm: Mark Peters
6:15pm: Cory Davis
6:30pm: Shelby Kibler

Panelist bios:

Jessica Ann Tyson and her twin sister were malnourished, neglected and eating out of trash cans at the age of four when they were placed in foster care. Three years later, the girls were adopted by a loving family who changed their lives. Their parents taught them how to grow fresh veggies in the family garden, do business at the local farmers market, share the harvest with those less fortunate and cook delicious meals that the family enjoyed around the dinner table. The love of food, family, community and service is what drove Jessica Ann to open The Candied Yam.

Mark Peters grew up in the operations side of Butterball Farms working with his father who founded the company. After his death in 1995 Mark succeeded his father as president. Mark has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration from Calvin College and a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Davenport University, as well as three semesters of engineering from Grand Valley State University. Mark is involved in a number of non-profit organizations and his focus is on organizations that provide community development through services or education.

Cory Davis and his wife, Tarra, established Daddy Pete’s BBQ in 2012. BBQ’ing as a hobby quickly turned into a passion that compelled friends and family members to begin ordering dinners. Soon, word spread and strangers began placing orders for food. With encouragement from friends and family, Cory and Tarra officially established Daddy Pete’s, first as a food truck, then adding a to-go location in 2015. Their vision is to spread joy to the community through an exceptional southern BBQ dining experience.

Shelby Kibler, owner of Field & Fire, is motivated by the aroma, flavor, and texture of his breads, and by the mindful, down-to-earth art of baking used at his business. Shelby and his team take precious resources from the earth's stewards (farmers) and carefully ferment it into healthful food for people. With long, slow fermentation, the use of sourdough cultures, and recipes using whole grains, they produce baked goods with exceptional character. Hand-mixing and wood-fired oven baking complete the transition from raw ingredients to bread. The team at Field & Fire believes that the act of baking is a noble act, but only so far as the baker cares for the earth that provided the raw materials, and the health of the people who will be eating the finished product.

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