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A Big FUSS: Supporting WNY’s Small Farms–One at a Time

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 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, an event 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 Nickel City Chef producer 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 nearly all of the proceeds will go directly to one of Buffalo’s best farms. 

Donations made by: Bistro Europa, Sample, Shango Bistro, Lloyd Taco Truck, Merge, Chautauqua’s Athenaeum Hotel, Carmelo’s, Elm Street Bakery, Buffalo Cheese Traders, Tuscany on Main, Nickel City Cheese & Mercantile, Promised Land CSA/Oles Family Farm, Unfinished Farm, Painted Meadows, and T-Meadow Farm.

Auction items include:


2x Tickets to Nickel City Chef 20: JJ Richert of Torches vs. Chris Dorsaneo of Lloyd Taco
Cheese Basket from Buffalo Cheese Traders/Vermont Butter and Cheese
Salumi Basket from COPPA 
An 11/x14 watercolor of The French Laundry by Vicki Warhol
A private lesson in Parisian macaron making from macarom master Sarah Wally
Sunday Tea for Two on the wrap-around porch at The Athenaeum Hotel
Dinner package from Sea Bar
A Deluxe entertainment package from WELCOME magazine
$125 Heritage Pork Family Package from T-Meadow Farm
2x tickets to Buffalo Museum of Science events “Love is a Crime” and “Get a Clue”

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

Sometimes the authors at Buffalo Rising work on collaborative efforts in order to cover various events and stories. These posts can not be attributed to one single author, as it is a combined effort. Often times a formation of a post gets started by one writer and passed along to one or more writers before completion. At times there are author attributions at the end of one of these posts. Other times, “Buffalo Rising” is simply offered up as the creator of the article. In either case, the writing is original to Buffalo Rising.

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