Feb. 5, 2013
NYC event features Cornell-related food products
More than 150 Cornell alumni and friends gathered in SoHo Jan. 31 to celebrate food products developed in conjunction with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) or by CALS alumni in New York state at the first "From Furrows to Boroughs: A Taste of New York State in New York City" event.
Attendees had the opportunity to sample products from such Empire State food producers as Acme Smoked Fish, Anthony Road Wine Co., Bedell Cellars, Brooklyn Brewery, Chobani, Cornell Dairy, Crown Maple, Flora Tomatoes, King Ferry Winery, Mercer's Dairy, Murray's Cheese and Old Chatham Sheepherding Co.
"There is nothing more exciting than being in the midst of passionate Cornellians who … continue to get together to enjoy not only each other, but the bounty of New York state," said Kathryn J. Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
The enthusiasm of attendees and the quality of food on display didn't surprise Beth Griffenhagen '94, marketing manager of Murray's Cheese Shop. "This is a big state, and there's a rich food heritage," she said. "There's a lot of land, there's a great entrepreneurial spirit and a lot of people supporting the different industries."
There is also CALS and its legacy of supporting producers, processors and purveyors through its land-grant mission. Each of the food items available was the product of CALS, CALS alumni or a CALS partner company.
"The most exciting thing to me is the role that the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences played in the provision, the development and, in some cases, the marketing of these wonderful food products," Boor said.
Examples of the interplay between Cornell and industry were abundant.
"Our company," said Michael Fitzpatrick '10 of Bedell Cellars, "is deeply woven into the Cornell fabric."
In addition to several Cornell alumni on staff -- including winemaker Richard Olsen-Harbich '83 -- Bedell Cellars benefits from the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, whose representatives offer advice on everything from planting to harvesting to bottling.
Assistance from Cornell is also helping small- to medium-sized companies like Mercer's Dairy and Acme Smoked Fish to create new products and stay ahead of the competition.
In 2005, for example, Mercer's Dairy launched a line of wine ice cream, the first of its kind in the world, with the help of Michele E. Ledoux, executive director of the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Lewis County.
"She's a great mentor," said Roxaina Hurlburt, director of marketing, of Ledoux.
Today, Mercer's wine ice cream is available in six flavors: Cherry Merlot, Chocolate Cabernet, Peach White Zinfandel, Port, Red Raspberry Chardonnay and Riesling.
Cornell made a similar impact with Acme, particularly in the area of quality assurance.
"We've been working with Cornell for the last 12 years," said Gabriel Viteri '99, vice president of strategy and business development. "It's because of Cornell, and the relationship we've developed, that we've been able to stay ahead of our industry and keep up with technology."
"Furrows to Boroughs" also featured the work of Cornell University Cooperative Extension of New York City and New York Sea Grant. In addition, attendees heard short presentations by David Just, associate professor in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management; John Mishanec '75, M.A.T. '84, vegetable integrated pest management extension area educator; and Miguel Gomez, assistant professor in the Dyson School.
Claire Lambrecht '06 is a freelance writer in New York City.
Susan S. Lang