Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Jola Szubielski 518-457-0752
Dave Bullard 315-487-7711 x 1377

August 22, 2015

State Agriculture Commissioner Hosts Taste NY Culinary Tour on Long Island to Connect Restaurateurs with Regional Producers and Growers

Tour of Four Local Farms and Processors Across Suffolk County Showcases Quality and Diversity of Long Island Agriculture

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today hosted the State’s Taste NY Culinary Tour on Long Island, which provided more than a dozen leading restaurateurs and chefs from New York City with a first-hand look at the quality and diversity of New York agriculture in the region.  Following a successful first-ever Taste NY Culinary Tour in the Finger Lakes last week, today’s tour was led by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets and included visits to four farms and processors across Suffolk County. The tour was organized following the Farm to Table Upstate-Downstate Summit in an effort to connect restaurateurs with regional producers and growers, and highlight the many opportunities for the sourcing of local foods. The four stops on the tour were Schmitt Farm (vegetables), Browder’s Birds (poultry), Catapano Dairy Farm (goat cheese), and Widow’s Hole Oyster Farm (oysters).

Commissioner Ball said, “The Taste NY Culinary Tour in the Finger Lakes got us off to a great start and we’ve already seen connections made between our producers and restaurateurs upstate.  Today’s tour builds on that success and now turns our attention to the very best of Long Island’s unique and thriving agricultural industry. Thanks to Governor Cuomo’s efforts to increase the exposure of our state’s growing number of top-quality agri-businesses, today’s visit allows us to foster new relationships with restaurants from within the region and New York City.”

At Schmitt Farms, tour participants visited the Riverhead vegetable farm that has been in operation for more than 150 years.  The wholesale business provides local farm stands, grocery stores, restaurants and other businesses with fresh produce. They grow a wide variety of leafy greens, including several lettuce varieties, mixed baby greens, spinach and cabbage, as well as super sweet corn, beets, carrots, and herbs.  The family also grows flowers and produces a line of homemade products including Holy Schmitt’s Horseradish sauces.The group continued on to Mattituck, where they toured Browder’s Birds, Long Island’s only certified organic and pastured poultry farm. The owners are committed to small, local farming and their products are sold through farmers’ markets, their farmstand and to select retailers and restaurants.

Participants also got a first-hand look into the artisan goat cheese making process at the award-winning Catapano Dairy Farm in Peconic, and at the final stop, participants visited Widow’s Hole Oysters where owners have been cultivating eastern oyster in Greenport since 2003. Their clients include restaurants in New York City and within the region. As the popularity of oysters grows, Widow’s Hole is looking to expand its growing operations.

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “This weekend’s Taste NY Culinary Tour will highlight Long Island’s top-notch farms and agri-businesses while helping to connect restauranteurs with quality, local products grown and made right here in the Empire State. New York State is fortunate to have ample agricultural resources and hard-working agri-businesses dedicated to providing only the highest quality produce and best products available. Thanks to Governor Cuomo’s commitment to support all aspects of New York’s agriculture industry, local family-farms and producers can thrive on Long Island.”

Deb Schmitt, owner of Schmitt Farms, said, “Farm tours such as this Taste NY Culinary Tour are a great way to get the word out, which will help local producers grow. We encourage New Yorkers to buy safe, buy fresh, and buy local.”

Holly Browder, owner of Browder’s Birds, said, “Since starting our farm in 2009, the East End of Long Island has become a food destination with more new farmers and artisanal producers each year. Pastured poultry, grass-fed beef, mushrooms, goat cheese, organic vegetables, heirloom tomatoes—we have it all!   An event like the Culinary Tour brings exposure to the region and its new farmers and small producers.  I like to say 'Know Your Farmer, Know Your Chicken.'  Visit the farmers' market, stop by the farm, and ask the farmer questions.  We love to talk about what we do and why. Opportunities like the Culinary Tour let us showcase our hard work and build relationships with the customer. That is so important for us and for the success of our farm.”  

Karen Catapano, owner of Catapano Dairy Farm, said, "I think when you get a behind the scenes look at a farm and see the goats, it's so much more meaningful than just seeing the finished product on the shelf. It helps customers understand how much work it takes to bring a fresh product to market. Anything we can do to promote our local producers is important.  So, when it comes time for a customer to choose a product,  they will buy local because it's good and they know the purity of it."

President of Widow's Hole, Mike Osinski said, "As Widow's Hole continues to grow and meet the expanding demand of its customers, we can only be thankful for all of the help that the Department of Agriculture and Markets has provided over the years. We're overjoyed to be a part of the Taste NY Culinary Tour, every opportunity to teach the public about how oysters are grown and how healthy they are is something that is beneficial to all."

With over 100 different crops grown, Long Island growers and producers offer a unique agricultural diversity.  They provide abundant, high quality commodities, such as vegetables and potatoes, fruits, poultry and livestock, nursery and floriculture products, seafood, and varieties of wine and grapes.  With excellent, well drained soils, access to fresh water and proximity to wholesale and retail markets, Long Island is an important agricultural region in the state.  Across the region, agri-businesses employ well over 10,000 people, and is a billion dollar industry that generates billions of dollars more for the Island’s largest industry—tourism, travel and hospitality. 

Rob Carpenter, Long Island Farm Bureau Administrative Director, said, “The Long Island Farm Bureau appreciates the Department of Agriculture and Markets’ efforts to promote all of our region’s unique agricultural assets.  Suffolk County is one of the leading agricultural counties in New York State and we are excited to be able to showcase the bounty of Long Island farmers that take great pride in producing some of the state’s best food and beverages.”  

The Taste NY Culinary Tour concluded with a Taste NY reception at Long Island’s Harvest Fest celebration, which brings together Long Island winemakers and top regional chefs and food artisans to celebrate the wine and food of the Long Island region.  The 2015 Honorees include James Beard (nominated chef and recipient of the prestigious Toque d’Argent award), Chef Guy Reuge (Mirabelle Restaurant) and Jim Trezise (President of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation) in celebration of the Foundation’s 30th Anniversary.

Steven L. Bate, Executive Director of the Long Island Wine Council said, “The Culinary Tour and the Harvest East End event is truly a celebration a Long Island’s wonderful bounty. Our wineries are always proud to have an annual opportunity to showcase their award-winning wines and how they pair with the region’s outstanding farm and aquaculture products.”  

The last Taste NY Culinary Tour will take place in the Hudson Valley in October.

Taste NY is an initiative launched by Governor Cuomo in 2013 to promote New York’s food and beverage industries. It is overseen by the Department of Agriculture and Markets and has created opportunities for local producers to showcase their goods at large public events such as the New York Wine & Food Festival, and the Great New York State Fair, as well as special events with the New York Racing Association. The program has also opened stores at Thruway rest stops and New York City airports and transportation hubs, enabling travelers to buy New York State’s homegrown and homemade products. Approximately 1,100 local companies have participated in these opportunities, further linking their products and the state’s growing food and beverage market to consumers from across the globe.

2015 Press Releases