This week we announced our 11 scholarship winners, and we’re excited to share their stories with you! Today, we bring you a closer look at Ben Cantone, our winner from Providence, RI. We sat down with Ben and learned about his first experience in a kitchen, and his drive to cook with integrity. We’re thrilled to share the personal side of  this innovative up and comer:

Thanks for taking the time to talk with us, Ben. Tell us a little bit about Tallulah’s Taqueria. What’s the food scene like in Providence?

Here at Tallulah’s Taqueria we serve traditional Mexican street tacos in the east side of Providence, in the heart of Rhode Island School of Design and Brown University. Tallulah’s Tacos is our older sister and what started it all. Jake and Kelly Ann Rojas started slinging tacos in Newport, RI out of their fine dining restaurant Tallulah on Thames for lunch 3 years ago. Then they purchased an old school hot dog cart and started selling tacos and burritos at local farmers markets, that one cart turned into two shortly after the first one took off.  With the success of those they found a wonderful location in Jamestown, RI at Dutch Harbor Boat Yard where they took over a sandi shop that was once the old buoy shed. Fast forward a few thousand tacos and burritos to May 5th of this year when we opened this great shop, filling the air with the smell of corn tortillas and braising meats.

unnamed-2From the beginning we have worked with local farms to serve local and fresh food for our guests, and to support the local economy. The food scene in Providence is up and coming and looks like it will not stop any time soon. With all of these great chefs and restaurants farm to table is bigger than ever.  Providence is a beautiful place, and it’s finally becoming great food city that offers much more than your traditional Italian spot.

What drives you to cook and source your food responsibly?

I have always loved to cook. I know this may sound crazy, but one of my first and most vivid memories is stirring a pot of pasta. That’s when I fell in love. Crazy and sick, I know, but I love it. I also grew up cooking large meals with my parents for my family every night. For some reason I always ended up in the kitchen. And there is nothing more satisfying than serving people food that they enjoy and seeing their reaction when they take their first bite.

Sourcing food responsibly and locally should be the only way food is sourced.  Along the way I felt as if we had forgotten how our ancestors used to live. You knew where your product was coming from and felt comfortable to say where you received it from. That’s why I try to source as much as I can from local farms and vendors. Along with having fresh local ingredients on our menu my money is going back into our local economy.

And of course, we want to know–What are you most looking forward to at this year’s Summit?

I look forward to meeting incredible chefs, farmers, and people that care about food and the industry as much as I do. I’m very interested to hear the segment on creating a beef industry that heals, and also can’t wait to forage mushrooms in the mountains.