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The Fall Harvest Season Brings Tasty Events!

In Edible Events, Feeding the Community on September 14, 2010 at 8:26 am

Singer Farms Naturals garlic drying at their eco-barn

The autumn harvest season is already under way and with it come several events including festivals, fund raisers, and dinners all celebrating our local bounty! Here are just some of the many cool food happenings happening this fall:

September 23

Are you a garlic lover? If so you will not want to miss this special evening celebrating one of the most naturally fortified foods around. Long used for its nutritional and medicinal qualities, this evening will showcase passionate organic garlic grower Tom Szulist from Singer Farm Naturals. Tom grows more than 20 varieties of garlic and plans on adding 30 more varieties for harvest next year. Experience, taste, learn all things garlic! Presented by the Lexington Cooperative Market, all proceeds support the Northeast Organic Farmers Association of New York. Tickets are only $5 and the event takes place at the gorgeous kitchens of Artisan Kitchens & Baths at 200 Amherst Street from 6:30pm-8:30pm.

September 25

If you are a reader of Edible Buffalo then you most certainly didn’t miss our Farm to School series featuring the Giving Garden at Union Pleasant Elementary School in Hamburg. One of the first outdoor classrooms at a local elementary school, the Giving Garden has transformed the student community at this school. Spear headed by two ambitious moms, Jean Marie Gunner and Stacy Furlong, their efforts have turned a wellness project into a full-fledged non-profit organization, S.O.L.E. (Seeds of Living Education) which consults with other schools across the region to build their own community school gardens. Tonight they celebrate the Giving Garden with their first annual Harvest Dinner Under the Stars fund raiser. There will be no shortage of local food, wine, and entertainment featuring Bobby Militello’s jazz band. Tickets for the fund raiser are $100 per plate. The event will take place under the stars at Memorial Park in Hamburg. For tickets or more information, please contact Jean Gunner at

October 8 & 9

If you care about healthy food, food access, food security, and all things that relate to food and the environment, then you don’t want to miss The World on Your Plate conference happening at Daemen College this weekend. Featuring numerous workshops, panel discussions, a market featuring some of the best the region has to offer in local products, and two outstanding women keynote presenters, ecologist, author, and cancer survivor Dr. Sandra Steingraber and Anna Lappe, author of the renowned book Diet for a Hot Planet. Open to the public, tickets for the conference are only $25 if you pre-register here.

October 16

Trattoria Aroma has made quite a name for itself as being a leader when it comes to sourcing their ingredients from local farmers. Winner of this year’s Buffalo Spree Best of WNY award as best restaurant featuring local ingredients, Trattoria Aroma has taken it one step further by offering their customers the ultimate authentic farm-to-table experience with their exclusive dinners at Oles Family Farm. With the success of their summer dinners, Trattoria Aroma added a fall dinner to their schedule. The tickets are $125 and include transportation from the restaurant to the farm, private wine tasting, a farm tour, tractor rides, a multi-course dinner, live music, and bonfire! Make your reservation by calling 716-881-7592. Space is limited for this dinner so call today!

The Lexington Coop and Edible Buffalo Announce Food Matters: A Four Film Series At Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center

In Edible Events on May 8, 2010 at 4:20 pm

Tickets for this film series can be purchased here.

Film has become a powerful medium when exploring controversial topics or when making a point about a particular subject. For the last several years those concerned with the state of our food supply in this country have done well in exploring, exposing, and initiating dialogue on this critical subject. The Lexington Cooperative Market and Edible Buffalo have joined together to present Food Matters: A Four Film Series. The films selected for the series are some of the most critically acclaimed on the topic of food production, food supply and the overall state of our food economy. The series includes the following films; King Corn, The Real Dirt on Farmer John, Dirt! The Movie, and FRESH. Each screening will take place at Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center in Buffalo.

King Corn was first released in 2007 and explores the tenuous topic of corn production in the United States. As America’s most subsidized crop, this film follows to young gentleman as they try to follow their corn crop as it enters our food system. What they learn is both troubling and eye-opening as it raises many questions about how we eat and how we farm. As more and more industrial food companies are coming under fire for their prevalent use of high fructose corn syrup in their products, this film continues to be timely and relevant. The screening date for this film is May 27, 2010 at Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center at 341 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo. Doors open at 6:30pm with the film beginning promptly at 7pm.

The Real Dirt on Farmer John is the true story of third-generation Illinois farmer John Peterson and how he struggles to stay afloat as family farms decline. His story is one that parallels the history of American farming. His family farm eventually hits rock bottom but Peterson is able to turn things around and become one of the leaders in the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) movement as head of Angelic Organics. The screening date for this film is June 30, 2010 at Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center at 341 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo. Doors open at 6:30pm with the film beginning promptly at 7pm.

Dirt! The Movie takes on the unlikely subject of soil. This film tells the story of Earth’s most valuable and under-appreciated resource. Through modern industrial pursuits and the clamoring for both profit and natural resources, our human connection to dirt has been disrupted. The film makes the case that drought, climate change, even war all directly related to how we are treating our soils. The only remedy is to reconnect with this precious natural resource. The screening date for this film is July 28, 2010 at Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center at 341 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo. Doors open at 6:30pm with the film beginning promptly at 7pm.

The Food Matters film series concludes with an encore screening of FRESH. As films like Food Inc. and Super Size Me expose the pitfalls and wrong doings of our industrial food system, FRESH goes in the direction of looking at solutions to our ailing food supply by celebrating the farmers, thinkers and business people across America who are re-inventing our food system. Among several main characters, FRESH features urban farmer and activist, Will Allen, a 2008 MacArthur’s “Genius Award” fellow; sustainable farmer and entrepreneur, Joel Salatin, made famous by Michael Pollan’s book, the Omnivore’s Dilemma; and supermarket owner, David Ball, who is creating a new market model for our family farmers. FRESH’s focus on these inspiring individuals and their initiatives around the US provides the audience with actionable solutions. The screening date for this film is September 30, 2010 at Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center at 341 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo. Doors open at 6:30pm with the film beginning promptly at 7pm.

Each film is approximately 85 minutes in length and will be followed by an audience discussion. Tickets for each film are $8.00 for general admission and $6.00 for Lexington Cooperative Market members, Edible Buffalo subscribers, seniors and students. There is also a series pass available for $20.00 which provides you admission to all four films. Tickets are available at the Lexington Cooperative Market at 807 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo or online at here. The net proceeds from the film series will benefit Field & Fork Network, a non-profit organization dedicated to connecting local consumers and food industry professionals with area farmers and artisan food producers.

Tickets for this film series can be purchased here.

Field & Fork Network’s 2010 Farmer-Chef Conference

In Edible Events on February 26, 2010 at 9:27 am

Above is a video recapping this year’s Field & Fork Network Farmer-Chef Conference which took place on January 25 at the Beaver Hollow Conference Center.  It was a packed day of networking, panel discussions, keynote presenters, educational/informational workshops and concluded with a local food Tasting & Trade Show. We had record attendance this year with over 200 attendees. Enjoy!

Below is a post written by Caitlin Henzler, a young aspiring farmer and Edible Buffalo intern. Here is her take on the Farmer-Chef conference and how it  inspired her.

After a great trip to Saratoga Springs for the NOFA conference on January 23-24, my weekend of intensive travel and learning continued on Monday at the Farmer-Chef Conference. The Field & Fork Network’s second annual Farmer-Chef Conference was held at the Beaver Hollow Conference Center in Java Center, NY. Although the weather was a bit dreary the day of the event, over 100 farmers, chefs, and food distributors made it out to discuss the future of Western New York’s local food scene.

As an aspiring farmer and intern for Lisa Tucker of Edible Buffalo, I had eagerly been anticipating this conference for months. I had been doing my research on Western New York’s farmers and chefs by compiling an entire notebook of names, locations, and information about of many of the attendees. So when I had the opportunity to help with registration by handing out the name tags, I was thrilled. This was my opportunity to put faces with names, and introduce myself to many of the farmers that I secretly had been admiring.

Helping with registration were the Field and Fork Network board members, Daniel and Jane Oles of Oles Family Farm & Promised Land CSA. In the chaos of finding name tags for people, I hadn’t even realized who they were. Afterwards I was able to introduce myself, and talk to them about their operation. They were attending the conference with their daughter Pam, and I was encouraged to hear about their successful farm which is entirely run by family members. In a way they had been too successful this year. With 300 CSA members and an on-site farm store, they were feeling short on labor. They were considering looking for an apprentice in the coming season, and I was eager to share my knowledge on the pros and cons of being a farm apprentice. (I spent the past growing season at Littlewood Farm in Plainfield, VT, and will be apprenticing at Crabapple Farm in Chesterfield, MA this coming season.)

I ran into the Oles at the rest of the workshops that I attended, and had the pleasure of hearing them speak at a talk entitled “Community Supported Agriculture as a Profitable Model for Your Farm”. Along with input from Jessica Runge of Roots n’ Wings Farm, who I had gotten to speak with at lunch, I learned of the challenges that each had faced in starting a CSA. Both of their operations were rather new. While the Oles have been farming for over 20 years, they only began offering a CSA in 2007. In that short time they have seen tremendous growth and demand for their shares. They pre-package their shares and have convenient delivery points in the Buffalo area.

On the other hand, Jessica Runge operates her CSA in and around her town of Cherry Creek in Cattaraugus County. With little prior agricultural experience, she decided two years ago with encouragement from other local farmers to jump right in and start a CSA on her land. She has been happy with the outcome, and enjoys the community connections that she has made through her operation. Her CSA offers more flexibility by giving shareholders options of what to take. She also has a swap basket where members can switch out items they don’t want that week with something from the basket. Since I plan on incorporating a CSA model in my future agricultural endeavors, I found the workshop helpful and was encouraged by both farmers’ stories

Hearing Jessica speak, I admired her bravery for starting a CSA with little prior experience. It reminded me of what the keynote speaker Patrick Martins, of Heritage Foods and Slow Food USA had said. He commented that there is a lack of action on the part of many people looking for change. A lot of effort is spent in planning, and discussing solutions to the problems in our food system, but real action is what we need. Many times we look to policy makers for answers that don’t come, and we forget who are the real drivers of change. According to Patrick, people who do the nitty-gritty are the true solution; those people who work hard day after day to provide a quality flavorful product. Patrick stressed the importance of having a superior product. However good intentioned chefs and consumers are in supporting local agriculture, they aren’t going to do so if the product doesn’t stand out in quality and taste.  Many chefs, distributors, and consumers seek out fresh produce and flavorful heritage meats at a reasonable price. It is up to the farmers of Western New York to meet this demand with consistent quality products.

Unable to find fresh local produce, dairy, and meat when he arrived in Canada in the 1980s, Chef Michael Stadtlander, another of the keynote speakers at the Farmer-Chef Conference, went in search of them himself. He was successful in doing so, and has since made it his mission to support and promote local farms by giving them the recognition they deserve for superior products. Partnerships with restaurants are a great way to promote your farm, and Stadtlander finds that modern young chefs are usually the ones supporting the local food movement. Today, chefs have the status of celebrities, and when they use your ingredients they are placing a stamp of approval on your farm. One idea that Stadtlander promoted is to set aside one night a week to connect people to their growers. Restaurants would showcase a local farm by using it’s ingredients in the dishes served that evening.

The more that you can get people involved with and aware of your farm, the more successful you will be, according to Stadtlander. He hosts a number of on-farm events throughout the year at his 100 acre Eigensinn Farm. He creates an intimate dining experience by serving guests a twelve course meal from ingredients produced on his land. Chef Stadtlander describes the experience as “eating the landscape”.  Guests are not just eating cultivated vegetables, but fish from his rivers, and wild edibles from his fields.  I admire the way that Chef Stadtlander approaches food. He looks to his land, beyond what he cultivates, to sustain himself. In doing so he uses practices that nurture and maintain the health of his farm and the greater community.

Being able to attend the Farmer-Chef Conference was an invaluable experience for an aspiring farmer. I was able to meet many of the farmers and local food advocates that I admire. I was interested in hearing their stories and many times they were just as interested in hearing mine. I came away impressed with how generous they were in sharing their knowledge and advice.  Many even offered to show me their operations, and I look forward to visiting them in the coming months. Maybe I’ll even get a chance to get my hands back into the soil.

Nickel City Chef V – Chef Ross Warhol vs. Nickel City Chef Adam Goetz

In Edible Events on February 22, 2010 at 1:12 pm

I was lucky enough to be a judge at yesterday’s Nickel City Chef Season Two opener. I say lucky because I felt grateful to have been one of the lucky few who had the chance to taste, savor and thoroughly enjoy what the chefs prepared at Buffalo’s version of Iron Chef.  Nickel City Chef Adam Goetz of SAMPLE Restaurant took on challenger Chef Ross Warhol from the Anthaneum Hotel at the Chautauqua Insititution . The secret ingredrient:  Sorrento’s ricotta cheese.

To say these two were well-matched is an understatement. Both are masters of molecular gastronomy which is the study of the physical and chemical processes that occur while cooking.  Inspired by the delicate art of food deconstruction, both of the chefs superbly showcased their skills. Think foams, powders and airs as each course was an interactive feast for the eyes and for the palette.

This was a difficult competition to judge as both chefs clearly had their A-game in play.  Chef Ross Warhol, a mere 21 years old, is clearly destined for great things as he soon embarks on an apprenticeship at  El Bulli, arguably one of the best restaurants in the world, located just outside Barcelona, Spain.  Alas, Chef Goetz came out the winner but it was  a close competition.  Chef Goetz, who is known to make his own ricotta cheese in his restaurant kitchen, showed enormous range and depth with his creativity and in the end came out ahead by only a few points.

Tickets are still available for the remaining 7 shows this season – don’t miss out on this truly fun and exciting culinary event.  Visit Nickel City Chef’s website for a complete schedule and ticket info.

~posted by L. Tucker

NCC Cake Challenge – Pushing the Boundaries of Cake Decor

In Edible Confections, Edible Events on February 15, 2010 at 10:56 am

The Nickel City Cake Challenge Winner - Panaro's Bakery

No those aren’t real chicken wings – but with their glossy sheen you’d think they just came out of the kitchen at Anchor Bar.  No this is the winning cake from Saturday’s Nickel City Cake Challenge.  Tony Concialdi III of Panaro’s on Delaware Avenue in Buffalo won the trophy with his delicious chocolate cake filled with a sweet, whipped ricotta and topped with fondant.  What appeared at first glance to be a traditional wedding cake was actually an homage to WNY’s favorite foods.  The base layer was made up of individually sculpted beef on weck sandwiches and a pepperoni pizza made of fondant and white chocolate.  Sculpted suicide wings dripping with “sauce” augmented the individual layers, and to top it off, a poured sugar beer bottle topper took the place of the more traditional bride and groom.  Concialdi’s cake may have been the epitome of the challenge’s theme.

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2010 NOFA-NY Conference Enthuses Young Aspiring Farmer

In Community Supported Agriculture, Edible Events, Feeding the Community, From the Land on January 30, 2010 at 10:09 am

This past weekend, January 22-24, was a whirlwind of learning, networking, and celebrating for me. A young aspiring organic farmer, I attended the NOFA-NY Winter Conference in Saratoga Springs, NY. The conference title, Circles of Caring, was a fitting description of the atmosphere there. The farmers attending were the type of people who care about their neighbors and the community. They realize that the quality of their product (whether vegetables, dairy, meat, maple syrup, or something else) affects the wellbeing and health of their customers. They are aware of the daunting forces of the industrial food system, and they work hard to bring an alternative to their community. It was a pleasure to meet, listen to, and talk with many of them.
I left my house in Tonawanda at 4am on Friday, making it just in time for the start of an all day workshop tailored for beginning farmers. Walking in I was curious to see who these beginning farmers would be. It turned out that many people in the room had similar stories to share. There were those with no prior agricultural experience, who had decided that it was time for a career change. There were many who had grown up on a family farm, and were now feeling drawn back to help or reinvent their family’s operations. There were a good number of people who had been apprenticing on farms for a number of years, and felt it was time to start something of their own. These farmers were from all walks of life; some young, middle-aged, with land, money, without land, experienced, inexperienced, single, or with families. Discontent with the industrial food system, and eager to make a better life in a nurturing community, we attended this conference. For me in particular it was great to be back around like-minded young people pursing sustainable farming.

In the beginning farmers workshop we met four different farming couples and spent the day talking about their successes, failures, ideas, and wisdom to share. That evening I heard Sandra Steingraber, author of Living Downstream, give a keynote address. She spoke of organic farming as the solution to a history of abuse from agricultural chemicals. Sandra and many of the people in her community have felt the direct impacts of toxins in their environment though various cancers and birth defects. She spoke against the idea that the “dose makes the poison”. There is no safe threshold for a toxic chemical. It may not out rightly kill you at low levels, but that does not mean it isn’t damaging your body. Furthermore a chemical, such as an insecticide, will alter in the environment, mix with other chemicals, and cause unforeseen damage. Certain people are genetically predisposed to be more responsive to toxins than others, and will be affected more often. Sandra talked of the importance of the timing of chemical exposure. Humans are especially vulnerable before and right after birth. Many children are born prematurely or with defects due to agricultural chemicals in their blood. Besides the environmental costs, the health care costs of agricultural toxin exposure are enormous. Sandra prompted that we can reclaim safe living environments, and cease using those chemicals by farming organically.

The workshops that I attended on Saturday were eye opening for me. At 8am I attended a workshop on permaculture that was geared toward farmers. I have to admit that permaculture tends to get me rather excited. For those of you who haven’t heard of permaculture, unfortunately it is rather challenging to define. I like to think of it as a way of using the landscape to meet human needs while at the same time increasing ecosystem health. In permaculture you look at and analyze the systems on your land (such as vegetation patterns, water systems, and soil), and look to see how they can better meet your needs, and improve the overall functioning of the entire landscape. Ethan Roland, of Appleseed Permaculture, spoke about various ways that farmers can utilize permaculture principles. Ethan spoke of increasing soil organic matter through rotational grazing. He explained a method to restore functioning in compacted soils through keyline plowing. The keyline plow tears a slit a couple feet into the ground allowing for water penetration, and root growth into the soil and subsoil. With the aid of oxygen this process jumpstarts microbial activity.  Ethan talked of managing water systems in ways that maximize groundwater retention through ponds, wetlands, and rainwater catchments. One thing that I really appreciate is that permaculture principles are mindful of climate instability, and potential crop failure. Relying on a few types of crops leaves you more vulnerable to scarcity if one crop fails.  You can plan for increased food security by planting a myriad of crops, trees, berries, annuals, shrubs, fiber crops, fuel crops, and grains. I came away from the talk having made an incredible new friend, Emma Brinkman (fellow aspiring farmer and permaculture enthusiast), and excited to put some of these ideas into action.

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Elmwood Wintermarket Opens for the Season

In Edible Events, Feeding the Community on December 14, 2009 at 8:26 am

The Elmwood Wintermarket began this Saturday December 12th at the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church at the corner of Elmwood and Lafayette.  Following a few days of stormy winter weather, only five vendors had braved the snow and ice to set up stands when I arrived a little after 11am.

As I walked in, I was warmly welcomed by George Kappelt of Flavor Farm who enthusiastically began telling me about his products. On his table lay small packets of ground hot peppers: red chilies, green chilies, and a yellow blend with habanero for those looking for an extra kick. George explained to me the difficulty of drying peppers in the Northeast’s moist climate. To get around this he first dries the peppers whole in a dehydrator, grinds them up, puts them in the oven on low for another hour to remove any excess moisture, and finally puts them through his spice grinder.

Among the other items at the Flavor Farm table were packets of microgreens, small greens with big flavor, with varieties such as red mustard, sorrel, hon tsai tai, and a salad blend. Believing in the importance of procuring nutrients from the soil, George grows his microgreens in earth filled seed trays under fluorescent lights in his home. George also sells Hot Chocolates, bite size Merckens milk chocolate with Flavor Farm’s red chili flakes mixed in. The Hot Chocolates were a great combination, sweet and smooth with heat coming through at the end.

While talking with George I met Jamelleh, a local farmer’s market regular. Originally from New York City, she enjoys exploring Western New York’s agricultural scene, attending markets and visiting farms in the area. She was looking forward to her purchase of red mustard microgreens, having never tried them before.

Among the other vendors at the market was Painted Meadow Farm. Despite a snowy hour and half drive, the farmer had made it to the market with her chicken, duck, rabbit, and heritage turkeys. Her multicolored eggs were in high demand. It was only 11:30 and she was nearly sold out. I purchased a combo pack of four turkey, four chicken and four duck eggs, which I look forward to using in my Christmas baking.

New to the market this year, Dave and Donna of Gourmet Sorbet were serving up two soups made with ingredients from local farms. They also make sorbet year-round, but in the winter months they plan on enticing marker goers with their hot soup. The menu changes weekly, but this week I was able to sample both of their soups and I particularly enjoyed an Asian inspired cabbage soup with sweet, sour, and gingery elements.

At Hens Honey Bee Farm of North Tonawanda I picked up some raw organic native wildflower honey. Geri Hens has a variety of liquid, cream, comb and flavored honey. She mentioned that today’s Wintermarket had an unusually small turnout of vendors. Normally there are farmers with bread and baked goods, winter produce, soup and prepared foods, local beef, meat, honey, and wine. She anticipates that next week will have a better turnout. The Elmwood Wintermarket will be running Saturdays from 9am-1pm from now until mid-May. It is located downstairs in the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church at the corner of Elmwood and Lafayette.

posted by Caitlin Henzler

Field & Fork Network Announce 2010 Farmer-Chef Conference

In Edible Events on December 10, 2009 at 9:08 am

Field & Fork Network, a local non-profit organization dedicated to connecting farmers to new economies in the eight counties of Western New York, announce their 2nd Annual Farmer-Chef Conference at Beaver Hollow Conference Center in Java, NY on January 25, 2010. Open to agriculture and culinary industry professionals, students and educators, the one-day conference provides workshops and networking forums to promote the building of a viable and sustainable local food system in our region. Conference attendees will also hear from distinguished speakers and industry experts from around New York State and Canada.

Building on the momentum from the very successful 2009 conference, the 2010 conference will include three keynote speakers; Kathleen Harris of the Northeast Livestock Processing Service Company and Currytown Farm, award-winning Chef Michael Stadtlander of the Canadian Chefs Congress and Eigensinn Farm in Northern Ontario, and Patrick Martins, owner of Heritage Foods and one of the people who really brought Slow Food USA to life, at the behest of Slow Food International’s founder, Carlo Petrini. These three notable speakers, representing different roles in the food chain, will make presentations during the morning session and will also answer questions during an open panel discussion.

The Farmer-Chef Conference also offers a roster of workshops which includes a variety of topics designed to meet the needs of small scale farmers and chefs, and to encourage thoughtful discussion around the benefits and challenges of doing business with one another. Such topics include: The Farmer-Chef Relationship: Developing a Mutually Beneficial Model for Small Farms and Restaurants, Extending Your Season – Supplying the Demand , and Re-imagining the Small Dairy – A Blueprint for Success . A complete list of workshops and the conference schedule can be found on the conference website.

The conference will culminate with a local food tasting and tradeshow intended to showcase WNY’s bounty and provide a networking forum for conference attendees and local producers. Tabling is available for $25 for conference attendees or $50 for non-attendees. Interested parties can find a link to table registration for the local food tasting and tradeshow can be found on the conference website.

The conference, to be held at Beaver Hollow Conference Center in Java, NY, costs $55 per registrant and includes admission to all of the day’s programming, unique networking opportunities, an all local lunch and educational materials. Scholarship tickets are available based on need and on a first-come-first-serve basis. Last year’s conference sold out quickly, so early registration is recommended. Links to registration and tickets are available at

Field & Fork Network would like to acknowledge the generous support of this year’s conference sponsors – Wegmans, Lexington Co-operative Market, Beaver Hollow Conference Center, Rich Products, Edible Buffalo, Culinary Institute Niagara Falls, New York State Restaurant Association, Sodexo, and the Aroma Group Restaurants. Additionally, Field & Fork Network would like to recognize its strong partner relationships with Cornell Co-operative Extension, Northeast Organic Farming Association’s NY chapter, American Farmland Trust and NYS Department of Agriculture & Markets/Pride of NY.

Looking for more information? Read what the press had to say about the 2009 Farmer-Chef Conference here!

Buffalo Diner with Focus on Local Ingredients Featured on Food Network Nov. 16th

In Edible Events, Restaurants on November 10, 2009 at 7:55 am
Fieri at Lake Effect Diner

Food Network’s Guy Fieri with Tucker & Erin Curtin, owners of Lake Effect Diner, The Steer & Dug’s Dive

Lake Effect Diner in Buffalo will be featured November 16, 2009 @ 10 p.m. on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives”.  The episode spotlighting the local diner was filmed over a two week period this past August when Guy Fieri and his crew came to town.  Here to showcase eight of Buffalo’s eating establishments for his popular show, Fieri also found time to film a pilot for a new television show featuring “ultimate” tailgating.

The crew from Page Productions, who produces “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives”, began corresponding with Tucker and Erin Curtin, owners of Lake Effect Diner, in May. The producers were originally interested in Dug’s Dive, a sister restaurant owned by the couple, but decided on the Lake Effect Diner because of the volume and diversity of artisan local foods being processed and served there. The six to eight minute segment will feature preparations of House Cured and Smoked Ham with Red Eye Gravy, House Ground Italian Sausage, and the Italian Haddock Dinner with tomatoes and fresh basil.

“It is a once in a lifetime opportunity for us to hit the national spotlight,” exclaims Tucker Curtin, who believes that the experience has helped define the establishment and build greater camaraderie amongst his staff members.  The staff has been preparing for weeks in anticipation of its television debut. “It is not uncommon to see business increase by 300 % the day after the show airs,” said Jeremy Greene, the on-location producer of the Lake Effect segment.  The Curtins are ready though, “The trick here is being as efficient and consistent as ever so that the increase in business won’t just be a flash in the pan,” said Curtin.

A public screening of the “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” featuring Lake Effect Diner will be held at The Steer @ 3151 Main Street (next door to the diner).  The Lake Effect segment is to be featured first at 10 p.m. sharp, so be sure to arrive in time to get a good seat! The Steer is a sibling restaurant of the Diner and will offer samples of the food items showcased on the program.

Farm-to-Table in Chautauqua

In Edible Events, Restaurants, The Eco-Chef on November 3, 2009 at 7:54 am

Anthaneum Hotel at Chautauqua
Fall is certainly one of Western New York’s more beautiful seasons, and the rolling, foliage-covered hills of Chautauqua County is an idyllic spot from which to view it.  I was pleased to have been asked to co-host The Athenaeum Hotel’s first Farm-to-Table dinner last weekend, so Saturday morning I hopped in the car and made my way down state.

The Athenaeum is a stunning example of late 19th century Victorian architecture, and its location upon the grounds of the significant Chautauqua Institution makes any visit a remarkable getaway.  Though late fall is considered off-season, and most of the residents have closed up their summer homes and the Institution’s event calendar is clear, it makes for a peaceful and romantic excursion.

Bruce Stanton, General Manager of The Athenaeum, and this season’s chef-in-residence, Ross Warhol, worked together to develop a true farm-to-table dinner.  Chef Warhol visited farms and wineries all over Western New York in order to gather the appropriate ingredients for the dinner, and was even a guest on my recent Chef-to-Farm tour where he found the wine for the evening’s second course at Arrowhead Spring Vineyards.

ross warhol

Chef Ross Warhol

Chef Warhol is a Western New York native who has worked in the kitchen of Chef Daniel Johengen of Daniel’s, and studied under Chef Steven Dufree, former Head Pastry Chef at Thomas Keller’s French Laundry in California (considered by many to be the best restaurant in the United States).  Chef Ross is a graduate of Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park and the Culinary Institute of America, Napa Valley, where he graduated at the top of his class and received the Excellence in Baking and Pastry award. He is currently awaiting word on an internship at elBulli in Barcelona.

Dinner began with a brief social hour in the lobby with lovely hors d’oeuvres and the chance to meet many of the farmers whose products were being featured on the menu. Once we were seated at tables for eight in a dining room which overlooks the lake, we enjoyed a remarkable five course meal with brief introductions of each course made by Mr. Stanton, and in some cases, myself.  It was a great opportunity to be able to discuss the Field & Fork Network and the efforts we’ve made to develop and support the farm-to-table movement here in Western New York.

For the purpose of anyone wishing to source local ingredients, I’ve decided that it would be best to simply include the entire menu along with links.

The Athenaeum’s Farm-to-Table Dinner

Haff Acres Rutabaga & Apple Soup with Nutmeg Crème Fraiche ~2008 Traminette, Leonard Oakes Estate Winery – Medina, NY

Roasted Beets, Soft Poached Hen’s Egg, Bacon Jam, Raindance Farm “Sun Cheese”, Chive Oil~2008 Semi Dry Riesling, Arrowhead Spring Vineyards – Cambria, NY

Good Grass Farm Pan-Seared Chicken Breast, Cauliflower Puree, Mustard Greens, Green Heron Grower’s Shiitake Mushrooms, Betts Farms Sautéed Grapes and Whole Grain Mustard Sauce~Proprietors Reserve,  Mazza Chautauqua Cellars – Mayville, NY

Freeman Homestead Pork, Sage Spaetzle, Sautéed Brussels Sprouts, House Made Sauerkraut, Pork Jus~Heinnieweisse Weissebier, Butternut’s Beer and Ale – Garrattsville, NY

Roasted Pumpkin, Vinewood Acres Maple Brown Butter Molasses Biscuit, Vanilla Yogurt Sorbet and Caramel Opaline~Red Ipocras,  Johnson Estate Winery – Westfield, NY

I was very impressed with Chef Warhol’s plating and presentation, as well as how he paid close attention to integrate a textural experience into every course.  The chicken preparation featuring Good Grass Farms Cornish Rock Cross Hen was the best chicken I can recall having ever eaten.  Freeman Homestead’s pork was succulent and flavorful.  Though Chef Warhol’s talents are to be credited for making both of these dishes excellent, the inherent flavor of the meat in both instances was outstanding.

My favorite course of the evening—the second–featured a remarkable and mind blowing bacon jam (Chef Warhol could make a fortune simply by bottling this product), beets, microgreens and Raindance Farms’ take on asiago; the accompanying soft poached sous vide egg was a delight.

Having worked on a number of Western New York farm-to-table events myself, I can tell you that only an extremely dedicated person can prepare a meal of this caliber, in this region, that is virtually 100% local.  Chef Warhol is exceptionally talented, we can only hope that at some point in his career, he will return to Western New York to open a restaurant of his own.

I think this dinner provided a remarkable opportunity for the farmers and producers to experience what a talented chef can do with the ingredients they work so hard to raise.  It was also a pleasure to meet excited guests who, prior to the dinner, were unfamiliar with the farm-to-table movement or the depth and breadth of Western New York’s agricultural bounty.  I am very much looking forward to next year’s event—I hope you are, too!

posted by Christa Glennie Seychew