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Farms to Restaurant Week promotes locally raised food

Albany County embarked on a weeklong initiative in continued efforts to boost a working relationship between Albany farmers and restaurants.

The Farms to Restaurant Week ran from Monday, Sept. 10, through Sunday, Sept. 16, at eight establishments throughout the county.

Across the county, o'dourves, main dishes and buffets were all created using area produce, dairy and meats.

It's promoting Albany County, to let it be known that Albany County is more than a place with restaurants, it's a place where the foods are produced as well, said Richard Toth head chef at the Schuyler Inn in Menands. The inn prepares large meals for banquets, weddings and events.

It joined the Albany Pump Station, CafE Capricco, Riverfront Bar and Grill, The Rusty Anchor, The Victory CafE, Java Jazz CafE and Marche at 74 State.

Toth took the opportunity to employ the local goods in the inn's Italian buffet held every Wednesday. From pork to tomatoes, squash to cheese and even fish, Toth cooked up a meal expected to serve hundreds.

Throughout the county and Capital District, chefs are turning to seasonal produce and meats, grown and raised in the area. The products are fresher and they help to sustain the area, said Toth.

Earlier in the summer, county legislators passed new laws protecting the right to farm in the county. The latest joint initiative through the county Farm and Agricultural Land Protection Board, Cornell Cooperative Extension Albany County Department of Economic Development, Conservation and Planning and state and federal agricultural and market departments is two-pronged; helping give the farmers a market while sustaining their operations and open areas.

The plan is to eventually help distribute the local wares to restaurants, said Tom Gallagher, livestock specialist with Albany County Cooperative Extension.

"We are trying to provide items that the restaurants need and how farms can help. In mid-winter we will be holding a meeting to bring in the farmers and restaurant owners to try to and put a system in place and to work on a delivery system," Gallagher said.

The extension is pleased with the support and the week seems to have caught on, he said.

To get the message across chefs informed their clientele that the food they would be eating was locally grown, produced or raised. A free wine glass was given to customer who selected menu items incorporating or made fully from local ingredients.

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