Learning About Local Farms and Food

Learn more about local cuisine at Farm to Fork 101

Mark Pawliw has worked in the restaurant business 22 of his 37 years. Several years ago, while working toward his bachelor’s degree in geography at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School, as well as working full time in local restaurants, Pawliw took an elective course — and found his passion.


The Farm to Fork course, offered through the Food Studies Program at SU’s Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics, is an exploration of seasonal, local, regional and sustainable food systems as well as a hands-on culinary lab. It left Pawliw with a greater understanding and appreciation of food and where it comes from, an eagerness to connect with local farmers and food producers, and a determination to build on what he has learned.

Enter “Farm to Fork 101,” a series of monthly dining and learning events Pawliw introduced in July. The third edition will be held Sept. 14, 6 to 9 p.m., at Francesca’s Cucina, 545 N. Salina St., where Pawliw works as a server.

The program, to be held in the restaurant’s banquet room, will be a Tuscan-themed, demonstration-style teaching and sampling event. Francesca’s chefs Paul Dicuia and Damon Gusman will prepare multiple courses and field questions as they work, while baker Tiffany Youngman will prepare tiramisu for dessert. The menu is still being developed, but will likely feature a course with fresh house-made cheeses and homegrown tomatoes, a meat course like coffee-rubbed braciole and plenty of in-season produce.

“Summer is a great time to be doing these events,” Pawliw says. “People are loving them. The last one was more hands-on and people got to cook the food.”

Participating farms include Main Street Farms, Homer (produce), WW Longhorn Ranch, Bernhards Bay and Shotwell Brook Farms, Skaneateles (pastured meats, poultry and eggs). Cafe Kubal will provide coffee and after-dinner drinks and Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars will offer a selection of wines. Tickets cost $65 and include approximately seven food samples and wine tastings. Seating is limited. For more information and to purchase tickets, go to

Pawliw isn’t a chef, but he is a home cook, enthusiastic eater and buy-local advocate who shops weekly for meat, produce, eggs, cheeses and more at the Central New York Regional Market and often again on Tuesdays at the Downtown Syracuse Farmers Market.

“I like the idea of knowing where food comes from,” he says. “I do go to Wegmans once in a while, because you can’t escape it.”

Pawliw says his ultimate goal is to address the issue of food accessibility and “food deserts” in the city by developing a local foods market that also contains a demonstration kitchen and teaching facility.

“I like Swiss chard,” he says. “I know what Swiss chard is, but a lot of people don’t. This way, you can teach people and show that it’s really easy to cook.”

For more information, visit their Facebook page. There will be another Farm to Fork event scheduled for Oct. 12 at The York, 247 W. Fayette St. Tickets for the October program will go on sale after the Sept. 14 event.

Inside Story on Fayetteville Market

Speaking of buying local and eating in season: The Fayetteville Farmers Market, held Thursdays, noon to 6 p.m., at the Towne Center at Fayetteville, will move indoors to the center’s community room for late fall and winter, beginning in November.

The open-air market continues Thursdays through Oct. 15. The winter market will take place noon to 3 p.m. the second Thursday of the month, starting Nov. 12. Additional dates include Dec. 10, Jan. 14, Feb. 11, March 10 and April 14.

For more information, go to or visit their Facebook page.

Margaret McCormick is a freelance writer and editor in Syracuse. She blogs about food at Follow her on Twitter, connect on Facebook or email her at [email protected].

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