Thursday, January 29, 2009

2009 Farmer - Chef Conference

2009 Farmer - Chef Conference
Monday, February 23rd
9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Byrncliff Resort and Conference Center
Varysburg, New York

Building a Local Food System in Western New York Niagara, Erie, Chautauqua, Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming, Cattaraugus, Allegany. About Field & Fork Network’s Annual Farmer – Chef Conference

What we eat and where it comes from is a hot topic these days. Whether you’re discussing concerns about food safety, the environment, the local economy or agricultural viability, the desire to source food locally may have been a novel idea a few years ago, but today it makes headlines, sells books and is the subject of news stories and popular documentaries.

American Airlines’ Celebrated Living Magazine named “Eating like a locavore” as the seventh most important food trend for 2008, and CNN News called “Locally Grown Food” the second of “5 Healthy Food Trends Worth Following” in a report it aired just over a year ago.

As exciting as this news is, many of the country’s regionalized food systems are not ready for the impact. In North Carolina, for example, the outcry for local food has led to a statewide study being conducted to determine how best to put a sustainable local food system in place. Similar programs, funded by public and private monies, are taking root all over our country.

Here in Western New York, we also have a struggling local food system. Consumers and local chefs want to know how they can source good, quality local food on an ongoing basis from the myriad farmers and artisan food producer located in our region.

The Field & Fork Network is a not-for-profit organization focused on stimulating a local food system in Western New York. Connecting chefs—a profession passionate about utilizing the freshest ingredients—with local farmers and artisan food producers is one of the building blocks of Field & Fork Network’s mission statement. The Farmer – Chef Conference provides chefs and farmers with the opportunity to learn together in workshops that appeal to both professions, to network and build relationships with one another, and to be inspired by local food heroes who have played an integral role in building a local food network here and in other parts of the country.

Our Keynote Speaker

We are pleased to present 2009 Farmer – Chef Conference keynote speaker, Eric Hahn, founder and owner of Cherry Capital Foods. Mr. Hahn started Cherry Capital Foods in the Traverse City, MI area in 2007, a distribution business focused on delivering local farm products into area restaurants, schools and other businesses. Today, Cherry Capital Foods is a very successful company, selling produce year round--working with over 150 local farmers and growers that service nearly 300 restaurants, schools and retailers in northern Michigan.

Prior to starting Cherry Capital Foods, Mr. Hahn worked in the restaurant business as a chef for more than 20 years. He also spent time working for a Michigan-based food distributor. The combination of restaurant experience and food distribution knowledge that Mr. Hahn brings will surely enlighten our audience and assist in bridging the distribution gap between chefs and farmers in our region.

Mr. Hahn is widely recognized in the ‘local food’ world as a leader and a great success. Featured in magazines and newspaper articles, as well as on National Public Radio, Eric Hahn has become a spokesperson for the locavore movement. We are thrilled to have him with us as our keynote speaker for Field & Fork’s 2009 Farmer – Chef Conference.

2009 Farmer – Chef Conference Schedule

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

9:00 Registration

10:00 Welcome and Introduction

10:15 Field & Fork Network Presentation

10:30 Farmer & Chef Panel Discussion (panel participants to be announced)

11:30 Lunch (featuring locally produced foods)

1:00 Keynote Address Eric Hahn, accomplished chef and owner of Michigan’s Cherry Capital Foods, a successful
independent distributor of farm fresh products to restaurants and markets.

1:45 Break

2:00 Workshop Session One (see Workshop options below*)

3:00 Break

3:30 Workshop Session Two (see Workshop options below*)

4:30 Tasting and Farm Tradeshow (learn what local farmers and food & beverage artisans have to offer your restaurant, sample tasty New York State products, network with other chefs and producers)

2009 Farmer – Chef Conference Workshops

The Importance of Growing Variety/Composing a Seasonal Menu—led by Tom Tower of Tom Tower Farm and author and chef, Jake Brach of Rich Products. This workshop will illustrate the economical and environmental benefits experienced by both farmers and consumers when individual farms choose to vary the type of product they grow. Heirloom and gourmet varieties will be discussed as will the unique benefits the soil of Western New York offers to its farmers. Chef Brach will discuss the opportunities writing a seasonal menu can provide a restaurant and its clientele and the positive impact the relationship between chefs and farmers can have on both of their businesses.

Selling Your Livestock Cuts to Retail and Restaurants/Nose-to-Tail Dining—led by Farmer Jennifer Small of Flying Pigs Farm and Chef Bruce Wieszala of Verbena Restaurant Understanding of New York State’s laws surrounding the selling of meat to restaurants and retailers will be an important part of this workshop. Notable Hudson Valley Farmer Jennifer Small will discuss the importance of the farmer/chef relationship when addressing the logistical challenges of meeting the demands of restaurants, while Chef Bruce Wieszala will demonstrate how “lesser” cuts can be utilized in high-end preparations, resulting in respectful and efficient use of the animal and economic benefit for both the restaurant and the farm.

Extending Your Growing Season through Pioneering/Utilizing WNY’s Winter Vegetables in Your Restaurant—taught by Stew Ritchie of Native Offerings, Robert Hadad from Cornell Cooperative Extension and Chef Adam Goetz of Sample Restaurant Investigate the benefits to investing in season-extending technology; learn what types of products are available in the cold season, and what can be grown for profit during the long Western New York winter. Chef Adam Goetz will discuss delicious and simple ways to incorporate local, winter vegetables into your menu.

Marketing and Selling Your Farm to Restaurants & Specialty Grocers—taught by Grocer Tim Bartlett of Lexington Cooperative Market, Daniel Oles of Oles Family Farm and Eric Hahn, conference keynote speaker and owner of Cherry Capital Foods
Discover who your customer is and how to market & sell to them in this workshop. Learn to establish, build and nurture your customer relationships through good business practices. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions and interact with professionals who have built successful “local food” relationships.

*Workshops and schedule are subject to change without notice. Becoming Part of Field & Fork Network’s 2009 Farmer - Chef Conference

We hope that you will consider joining us for the 2009 Farmer – Chef Conference. We have only 100 seats available, so it is important that you register before February 9th, 2009. The fee for the daylong conference, including lunch, is only $50.00.

Whether you’re a restaurant owner, a chef, a culinary student, a farmer, an artisan food producer, an educator, or an agriculture/hospitality industry professional, if you want to meet chefs and farmers, are curious about the local food movement, or are interested in learning about what Western New York has to offer agriculturally, please visit our website ( to download the appropriate registration form.

We are also pleased to announce that we have partnered with the Mansion on Delaware Avenue in Downtown Buffalo to provide a Chef Shuttle. Conference attendees that wish to utilize the shuttle pay only $20, and may leave their vehicle in the secure MoDA parking lot for the day. The shuttle will leave for the conference at 8:00 a.m. and will return attendees to the parking area around 6:30 p.m. If you are interested in utilizing the Chef Shuttle, please download the appropriate form at our website ( and return it with your registration form.

Finally, if you are an artisan producer or represent a company that would like to demonstrate their product to conference attendees, the Farmer – Chef Conference will host a mini tradeshow between the hours of 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. Join wineries, CSA’s, cheesemakers and other food artists. Please visit our website for more details (

We hope that you will consider joining us. If you have any questions, please feel free to email Field & Fork ( or contact us via telephone at 716.812.1615.


Christa Glennie Seychew, Co-founder
Lisa Tucker, Co-founder
Field & Fork Network

Thank you to the following organizations for their support:

American Farmland Trust
Edible Buffalo
Pride Of New York
Cornell University Cooperative Extension

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