LAS VEGAS — The New Jersey Department of Agriculture is piloting a new restaurant promotion, complete with produce items of the month and cooking demonstrations, through its Jersey Fresh program.

Starting in May, the Trenton Marriott hotel’s Archives restaurant will feature a different Jersey Fresh produce item on its menu. At some point each month, the restaurants’ chefs plan to host a cooking demonstration centered on that same produce item at the Trenton Farmers Market.

Archives restaurant to promote Jersey Fresh produce

“We would like to do more to get restaurants doing more local promotions,” said Logan Brown, economic development representative with the state’s department of agriculture, at the United Fresh Produce Association’s annual convention April 20-23.

Brown said by working directly with restaurants, the end users of produce, the department is better able to spur demand for Jersey Fresh produce.

“This is more effective because these restaurants can demand that their suppliers supply Jersey Fresh,” Brown said. “Suppliers may or may not see the advantages of it, but the people who go out to eat would love to see the Jersey Fresh brand.”

The department of agriculture has 350 growers licensed to use the Jersey Fresh brand. Those growers are inspected by the department, which also regulates the Jersey Fresh products.

The pilot program is scheduled to run May through October, Brown said.

The Trenton Marriott is right across the street from many of the state’s offices, so the department is hoping to reach out to state employees who dine at Archives during the work week, as well as provide an incentive for them to dine there more often.

“If it’s a success, we’re going to get a 12-month calendar going and we’ll include seafood,” Brown said.