CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Governor Earl Ray Tomblin joined the Appalachian Regional Commission at Charleston’s Capitol Market Tuesday to announce a new culinary map that showcases many West Virginia food destinations. Bon Appetit Appalachia is a guide that features hundreds of culinary destinations from local farms to wineries across the thirteen states in the region.

Business owners from across the state attended the event, offering free samples and showing customers what they have to offer. Rob Losey’s distillery, the Bloomery Plantation Distillery, is located in Charles Town and he said he is happy to see his business on the guide.

“My products are all-natural, hand-crafted liqueurs from fruits, roots, and nuts that we grow in West Virginia. We grow the lemons, the raspberries, the walnuts, the pumpkins, ginger, on our facility. So, people come and taste our products and see what we do. Being part of West Virginia agriculture and the tourism division is fantastic, ” Losey said.

For many leisure travelers, dining is listed as a top priority. Officials with the Appalachian Regional Commission said there is increasing demand for distinctive local cuisine. Bon Appetit Appalachia gives them the opportunity to show the diversity as a part of a broad tourism program.

Tourism is important to West Virginia’s economy, bringing in millions each day, according to state tourism officials.

One owner of two featured businesses said she is just as interested in helping her state as helping her own restaurants.

“As a state, we’re always landing on the top or bottom of some god-awful poll. I’m only interested in being part of the solution and part of the the solution is making sure that as much money and income goes back into our state as possible,” said Keeley Steele, co-owner of Bluegrass Kitchen and Tricky Fish in Charleston.

Bon Appetit Appalachia will be available in the Summer 2014 issue of Food Traveler Magazine. Bob Ford, vice president of sales for Food Traveler, says the region has just what the magazine was looking for. “We’re all about farm-to-table, grassroots, growing our magazine. But more importantly, getting our advertisers exposure to people in West Virginia and the other twelve states,” Ford said.

Alisa Bailey, president and CEO of the Charleston Convention and Visitor Bureau, said that positive exposure is exactly what West Virginia needs, especially after the exposure the state received early this year because of the chemical spill.

“We have a healthy, healthy lifestyle here. We have great recreational opportunities. We have wonderful, clean accommodations and food. So, we really do know that events like this are going to help people understand that we’ve come out of it, and we’re recovered, and we’re ready to re-ignite the brand,” Bailey said.

More information about Bon Appetit Appalachia is available at www.visitappalachia.com

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