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Chefs using locally sourced food to create menu offerings is a growing phenomenon in the Finger Lakes.

It’s also the subject of a day-long program at two locations in Geneva.

The Canandaigua Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring the “al fresco” conference that will explore the influence of the farm-to-table movement and agritourism on the local culture and economy. It’s scheduled for June 3.

Canandaigua Chamber members get first dibs on tickets, beginning today and continuing until April 24. After that, tickets will be offered to the general public.

“I am intrigued by the farm-to-table concept, and I hope this program brings people together for a day to explore the potential of farm to table and agritourism, along with craft food and beverages,” said Ethan Fogg, Canandaigua Chamber executive director. “One of the Chamber’s missions is to encourage conversation on topics that relate to business opportunities and tourism in the Finger Lakes.”

The event will take place at the Ramada Plaza by Wyndham Geneva Lakefront Resort and the Finger Lakes Welcome Center, buildings at the north end of Seneca Lake separated by a short walk.

Fogg said the Ramada was chosen because its new executive chef, Samantha Buyskes, is a leader in using locally grown food in her menu offerings.

The day will include a morning session focusing on supply and demand in the world of farm to table and agritourism. There will be a panel discussion and a question-and-answer period to follow. Lunch will be served al fresco overlooking Seneca Lake and feature locally sourced food and a keynote address from Buyskes and Ramada general manager and host Terry Sindt.

The venue will then shift to the Finger Lakes Welcome Center for a reception. After the reception, Buyskes will host a five-course chef's table dinner with local wines and commentary.

“The Ramada has taken a bold move to go from more traditional food menus to the local food to table model that Samantha Buyskes has championed,” Fogg said. “We feel that deserves recognition and exposure to more people. We want to demystify the food to table process and how to start a relationship with a food producer and grower and vice versa.”

Fogg said the day will not only show how to use local food on menus, but to make the entire experience, including beverages, a positive experience that can attract visitors to the Finger Lakes.

“Right now is perfect timing,” Fogg said. “It’s an inspiring story for those who want to try this experience We want to show the potential of this business model and understand its adaptability so those who make the bold move can stay in business.”

Fogg said he got the idea from a program offered by the Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce.

Lyons National Bank is a major sponsor of the event, and Fogg said Cornell Cooperative Extension is offering considerable help too.

Presenters at the conference include:

• Michael Mills and Deborah Fox on their experiences with food to table.

• The business model will be addressed by Gina Mangiamele of Finger Lakes Community College.

Fogg said tickets for the "al fresco flx" are $50 each and include lunch. Tickets for the chef's dinner are $100 per person and require registration.

“This is our first time doing something like this,” he said. “I hope it will be an annual event at different locations that are involved in food to table programs.

“I’m really excited about it. I’m no foodie, but there’s not much I won’t eat. I think there are a lot of Finger Lakes residents who don’t know about this, and visitors may want to try it if given the opportunity.”

For more information and to order tickets, visit

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