October 24 – Buffalo/Niagara chefs make A Big FUSS over a farm in need
Buffalo restaurants join together to support a small local farm
Over the past several years the idea of eating local has become popular here and elsewhere, and with it the desire to experience foods fresh from the farm in our local restaurants. But without a distribution system in place for local farmers, as demand has grown, only a few farms have been willing or able to truly embrace the effort and challenges required to work with restaurants. Those that have stayed the course have found it to be a profitable and rewarding choice–chefs can appreciate the subtle adaptations a farmer can make in the growing process to really enhance a particular food, and anyone who has seen a field weather a serious storm can grasp the mercurial nature and risk inherent in farming.
The handful of farms whose food can be found in the best Western New York restaurants are fundamental to the success most of these restaurants enjoy. Chef Steven Gedra of Bistro Europa (recently named #2 Favorite Retsaurant in WNY) is known as one of Buffalo’s most adventurous chefs, and while he is well-trained and a naturally creative person, he will tell anyone dining at his restaurant that much of his inspiration comes from the raw ingredients provided to him by his farm vendors.
Which is why he has committed himself to A Big FUSS, in co-operation with NATIONAL FOOD DAY, which will take place on Wednesday, October 24th at Artisan Kitchens & Baths in Buffalo’s emerging Grant/Amherst neighborhood. This event is designed to aid a single, small family farm. A bad season, a major illness, a car accident, a broken piece of farm equipment–these are the things that can begin the road to ruin for a small farm. Can most farms survive one bad season? Sure. Can most make it through a bad season coupled with some other sort of family loss or tragedy? No. Can Buffalo’s emerging restaurant scene afford to lose a single one of its year-round farm suppliers? Absolutely not.
So Gedra teamed up with Feed Your Soul Productions’ Christa Glennie Seychew in order to develop an annual event where all proceeds would go directly to underwriting a single struggling farm. “Farmers are proud, and they aren’t likely to accept charity, ” Seychew said, “but every year I know of at least one farmer who is really at a tipping point. So why not fix it? This is the City of Good Neighbors, after all.” So Gedra and Seychew have gathered several of their friends to stage A Big FUSS on Wednesday night at Artisan Kitchens and Baths on Amherst Street. Some of WNY’s top chefs will be on-hand, and the silent auction sports some truly mouth-watering items (see below).
“The best restaurants in town get 15-25 requests for donations every week. I don’t think people have any idea how much of the charity in this town comes straight from our restaurants,” said Seychew. She and several area chefs worked to gather donations to support another local farmer last year, “I can’t imagine a single year could go by when one of our 7,500 farms won’t need our help, or couldn’t move the local food scene forward with seed money for a greenhouse or another season-extending addition to their farm. So Steve and I are just going to make it happen, because we both see the direct effect that eating local has on our farms and on what we do.”
DJ Cutler will warm up the joint; admission is only $30 (tickets available online or at the door). Both Gedra and Seychew are excited to say that almost all of the costs have been covered by them and their fellow locavores, so all of the proceeds will go directly to one of Buffalo’s best farms. Big FUSS 2.0 is the second undertaking, the first netted 2.5 mortgage payments for a farm facing foreclosure.
Donations made by: Bistro Europa, Sample, Shango Bistro, Lloyd Taco Truck, Chautauqua’s Athenaeum Hotel, Carmelo’s, Park Country Club, Elm Street Bakery, Nickel City Cheese & Mercantile, Spar’s European Sausage, Promised Land CSA/Oles Family Farm, Painted Meadows, and T-Meadow Farm.