February 13, 2013

Farmers and chefs to network


MALONE — Fruit, produce and specialty-meat farmers are among those partnering with area chefs to offer fresh, local foods on restaurant menus.

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Franklin County is hosting “Speed Dating for Farmers and Chefs” from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, March 5, at Donovan’s Steak and Ale at 3853 Route 11 in Malone.

Local producers can set up displays that show what they have, and chefs can stop by to learn more, said Bernadette Logozar, the agency’s rural and agriculture economic-development specialist.

Chefs at Donovan’s will prepare appetizers using some of the local ingredients, she said.


Logozar said similar ag-business mixers have been held in Essex and Clinton counties.

“I guess the wave took a little longer to wash over our shores, but we thought we’d give it a try here,” she said, laughing.

“We encourage any restaurant chef or cook, not just the places with white tablecloths, to come and talk with the farmers and to network.”

She said restaurants are interested in traditional farm products, along with: farm-raised wild meats such as venison, elk or bison; fresh herbs; small fruits and berries; wild-harvested or cultivated mushrooms; artisan cheeses; and breads.  

The event gives farmers a potentially wider market of schools, institutions and various businesses, she said.

Also, before the growing season, farmers can negotiate with restaurants to grow a particular crop for a particular use.

Logozar said producers should think about how much product customers wants, how and when they want it delivered, when they will get paid for a delivery and insurance coverage.   

Chefs and cooks might want to know the volume a farmer can produce, delivery information, and alternatives if an anticipated order cannot be filled that might change the restaurant’s menu selections.


She said there are lots of opportunities farmers and producers may not have thought about, which encourages her “eat, drink and buy local” philosophy.

“A diner could be using local jams,” she said as an example. “Or I’d love to see local honey in all local restaurants or see them use local flour or local eggs.

“If a restaurant uses local potatoes, it sets you apart because you offer fresh, local hand-cut potatoes,” she said.

And for the consumer, “it makes you feel good because you’re reinvesting in the local economy, and I can’t stress this enough.”

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