News Bites: RI Community Food Bank Canstruction 2014, The Savory Affair Food and Wine Tours, RI Hospitality Association News

by David Dadekian
Canstruction 2014

Canstruction 2014

Current news releases—Eat Drink RI is not the source for these items—please follow any links for more information.

Rhode Island Community Food Bank

Canstruction® Returns!
Exhibit made from canned food benefits RI Food Bank
Free exhibit runs March 8 – 21 at Providence Place Skybridge Concourse

Like a vision from a childhood dream, massive sculptures made entirely from non-perishable food will rise from the imagination of gifted architects this March at Providence Place on the Skybridge Concourse. This ambitious project, known as Canstruction®, makes an appearance every two years, thanks to the inspiration and sweat equity of dozens of professional architects, builders and volunteers. This year’s free exhibit will be open to the public Saturday, March 8 through Friday, March 21 during regular mall hours. They will be assembled on the morning of March 8 – dubbed Build Day – and the public is invited to watch it happen.

When the exhibit closes, the building materials – thousands of pounds of healthy food – will be picked up by the Rhode Island Community Food Bank to help feed the 68,000 people served every month through its network of food pantries.

The Canstruction® RI sculptures will be evaluated by a panel of independent jurors. Awards will be presented for Best Meal, Best Use of Labels, Structural Ingenuity, Jurors’ Favorite, and Honorable Mention.Viewers may vote for the local “People’s Choice” award.

The seven teams competing include:

  • Construction Leadership Council of the R.I. Chapter of Associated General Contractors, Providence
  • Dimeo Construction Co. and Vision 3 Architects, both based in Providence
  • Durkee, Brown, Viveiros & Werenfels Architects, Providence, GTECH Corporation, Providence, Herrick & White, Cumberland, and Odeh Engineers, Providence
  • Gilbane Building Co., Providence, and Jo Ann Bentley Architect, Inc., Fall River
  • LLB Architects, Pawtucket, Shawmut Design and Construction, Providence, and Fuzion Design, Pawtucket
  • Northeast Collaborative Architects, Newport and Providence, Veri-Waterman Associates, Providence, Building Engineering Resources LLC, North Easton , Mass., and Kasabian Construction Inc., Providence
  • Saccoccio & Associates, DiPrete Engineering and E. Turgeon Construction Corp., all based in Cranston

The Savory Affair

Boutique Event Planning Firm Announces Personalized Food and Wine Tours Providing Exclusive Access to the Best of Napa Valley and Tuscany

The Savory Affair, New England’s premier boutique event planning and design firm, today announced two extraordinary food and wine travel experiences for 2014. Combining the unparalleled service of The Savory Affair with the vineyard connections and wine knowledge of sister-company, The Savory Grape, each trip offers a personalized, behind-the-scenes look at the epicurean worlds of Napa Valley, California and the Tuscany region of Italy.

The Napa Valley trip is August 1 – 6, 2014, a perfect time of year to escape the heat of the East Coast and enjoy the comfortable temperatures of Northern California. In order to provide a more tailored, individualized experience, this trip will host only 10 guests and be personally guided by The Savory Affair and The Savory Grape proprietor, Jessica Granatiero.

“This will be an amazing opportunity to go behind the scenes to meet the families and vintners, while learning more about the intricate process of winemaking,” stated Granatiero. “From the accommodations to the daily itineraries, we have designed a first-class experience and will show you Napa in a way few experience.”

Accommodations will be provided by Andaz, a luxury boutique hotel in downtown Napa and walking distance to many great shopping and restaurants.

The Napa trip includes:

  • 5 night, 6-day stay in the Andaz Napa
  • Breakfast daily in the Andaz Farmer’s Table Restaurant
  • Lunch daily, except travel days
  • 2 organized group dinners-welcome dinner at Carpe Diem and closing dinner at the home of Rob & Kat MacDonald
  • Hands-on, interactive pesto-making demonstration and class with wine, at the Culinary Institute of America
  • Insider visits, tours and tastings at six different vineyards
  • Transport to and from all vineyard activities and dinner

Two months following the Napa experience, Granatiero is partnering with Chef Kaitlyn Roberts, founder & owner of Easy Entertaining Inc. for Savorying Italy tour of Tuscany that promises to be an insider’s guide to the best vineyards and dining in Italy. Guests will experience an epicurean education with cooking classes and wine tours lead by Chef Roberts and Granatiero.

The six night, six-city tour will start on October 5, 2014, with guests arriving at the Villa Daniella Grossi, a restored 17th century luxury villa located in the hills of Lucca, on the morning of October 6. The trip includes an elaborate breakfast each morning prepared by Chef Roberts, followed by a tour and tasting at top Tuscan vineyard lead by Granatiero. Each afternoon, guests will return to Villa Daniella Grossito enjoy hands-on cooking and wine pairing lessons from Chef Roberts and Granatiero. At night, guests will dine on five gourmet dinners, including three at the villa with custom wine pairings, two off-site in the city of Lucca and one in the beautiful city of Florence.

The Savory Affair has been organizing and hosting unique local, national and international travel experiences for two years with great success and rave review.

“We’ve had the pleasure of traveling with The Savory Affair on their Napa Valley trip last year,” stated Caroline Corrente. “They blend their extensive relationships within the wine industry with first-class planning expertise to provide a one-of-a-kind trip you can get on your own or with a large travel agency.”

To view a downloadable brochure for either trip, visit To book your reservations please contact Ann Petronio, at Annie’s Escapes Custom Travel Planning at 401-270-4834.

RI Hospitality Association

Rhode Island Restaurant Industry Expected to Post Growth in 2014 Despite Sustained Challenges
Restaurant Industry to Create 3,100 Jobs in the Next Decade

The RI Hospitality Association (RIHA) is pleased to announce that the State’s restaurant industry is expected to post 2.3% growth in 2014 to reach $1,980,821,000 in sales, according to the National Restaurant Association’s (NRA) 2014 Restaurant Industry Forecast. Rhode Island restaurants will employ 50,600 next year and create an additional 3,100 jobs in the next decade.

“These new numbers represent a very positive outlook for the restaurant industry in Rhode Island,” said Dale Venturini, President and CEO of RIHA. “Despite many obstacles over the past several years, it appears that we are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.”

2014 will mark the fifth consecutive year of restaurant industry sales growth nationally despite a continued challenging economic landscape. Overall, industry sales are projected to exceed $683 billion in 2014, up 3.6 percent from 2013’s sales volume of $659 billion.

2014 will also mark the 15th straight year in which restaurant industry employment growth will outpace overall employment growth. The industry will continue to be the nation’s second largest private employer with 990,000 restaurants employing 13.5 million individuals or 10 percent of the total workforce. The NRA expects restaurants to add 1.3 million new positions in the next decade, pushing industry employment to 14.8 million by 2024.

“As our nation continues its road to recovery, the restaurant industry will remain a key driver of economic growth and a leading jobs creator,” said Dawn Sweeney, President and CEO of the National Restaurant Association. “Restaurants touch every community across the U.S., and 2014 will be a year of growth and innovation as the industry focuses on inspired new ways to meet consumer demand while providing valuable careers to millions of Americans.”

While the restaurant industry is expected to grow in 2014, operators will continue to face a range of challenges. The top challenges cited by restaurateurs vary slightly by industry segment, and include government regulations, food costs, labor costs, and the economy.

For more information about the NRA’s 2014 Restaurant Industry Forecast, visit

Cumberland restaurant veteran Bahjat Shariff elected to the National Restaurant Association’s Board of Directors.

Cumberland restaurant veteran Bahjat Shariff elected to the National Restaurant Association’s Board of Directors.

Cumberland Resident and Restaurateur Appointed to National Restaurant Association Board of Directors

The RI Hospitality Association (RIHA) is proud to announce that fellow board member and Cumberland resident and restaurateur Bahjat Shariff has been elected to serve on the Board of Directors for the National Restaurant Association (NRA). The NRA board consists of roughly 100 voting directors from across the country, representing every facet of the restaurant industry.

Shariff brings an extensive background of restaurant knowledge and management skills to his new role. He is currently an Operating Partner and Sr. Vice President of Operations for Howley Bread Group, a Panera Bread franchise. Shariff helped form Howley Bread Group in 2000, which now owns and operates more than 20 bakery-cafes in Rhode Island, Connecticut, and southeastern Massachusetts with plans to expand to 35 bakery-cafes by 2015.

“This is an incredible accomplishment for Bahjat and I couldn’t think of a more deserving person to be elected to this board,” said Dale J. Venturini, President and CEO of RIHA. “His experience will be an invaluable asset and I am proud to have him representing Rhode Island and the industry at the national level.”

Shariff began his career in the hospitality industry in 1985 at Kentucky Fried Chicken after his family moved to Los Angeles from worn-torn Lebanon. It wasn’t long before he was promoted to Market Manager, managing 22 stores with a sales volume of more than $22 million. Shariff continued to climb the corporate ladder, later working for Au Bon Pain as an Operation Service Manager and at Bertucci’s as a Regional Manager in northern New England managing the company’s most successful franchise with a sales volume of over $25 million.

Shariff has been on the RIHA board of directors since 2011 and is also a current member of the Economic Development Committee for the City of Cranston and Past Chairman of the Board of the Cranston (RI) Chamber of Commerce. He also volunteers his time as a member of the Early Childhood Council for Children’s Friend & Services in Providence, spending his time to better the lives of underprivileged children in Rhode Island. He resides in Cumberland with his wife and four children.

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