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Restaurants rally around Oles Farm with one-day fundraiser

Farmer Daniel Oles was an expert at cultivating vegetables, but he was also adept at cultivating relationships, including ties with a group of Buffalo-area restaurateurs who he helped inspire with deliveries of fresh produce.

On Thursday, March 19, those restaurants have dedicated a day to supporting the Oles Farm family’s continuing operations after the death of Daniel, its patriarch, last month.

Good Grace: Western New York Chefs Celebrate Daniel Oles, is a fundraising event that will deliver at least 20% of participating restaurants’ food receipts to the Oles family’s agricultural efforts.

Far from the gruff farmer stereotype, Oles brought beleaguered restaurateurs emotional support as well as cabbage and carrots.

And what carrots they were. With Oles as one of the trailblazers, vegetables star on some local menus now, fueled by the growing contingent of diners who now know that local tastes better.

Oles carrots, roasted and glazed, star with locally raised chicken, labneh, and za’atar at 100 Acres, the restaurant in Hotel Henry, in the Richardson Olmsted Campus next to SUNY Buffalo State.

“Dan Oles is a legend and always made the room light up upon his arrival,” said 100 Acres chef Mike Thill. Motivated by “endless respect, affection, and appreciation for the Oles family,” 100 Acres is taking reservations for March 19, doing its part to boost the farm. Rutabaga, kohlrabi, cabbage and more turned into its winter salad and pickle plate.

“Dan proved we could run a restaurant kitchen with local produce while being smarter and more sustainable,” said Cantina Loco’s Mike Andrzejewski. “He brought us together and showed us what is in our own backyard.”

“We pride ourselves on forming relationships with our farmers, knowing their product, their family and their farm,” said Marble + Rye chef-owner Michael Dimmer. “Dan was one of the first farmers we started working regularly with, and his passion, love and impact on people’s relationship with food will always be remembered.”

Hit the best value happy hour in town at the Genesee Street hot spot to join him in supporting Oles Farm. “We are participating as a small piece of what we hope to give back,” Dimmer said, “to honor Dan’s legacy and importance in our industry.”

Or head up to Chandler Street to visit Waxlight, where the Oles have been considered part of the team. A vinegar made of Oles maple syrup anoints bacon rillettes.

“Our entire concept depends on Dan and Jane as partners. Their products determine our cuisine and are our differentiating factor,” said chef-owner Edward Forster. “So we try to show his legacy on a plate each day, but are privileged to do so saying it aloud and proud for one night.”

Other restaurants participating include:

Craving, Billy Club, Black Iron Bystro, Trattoria Aroma, Ristorante Lombardo, Lloyd Taco Factory, Osteria 166, Dapper Goose, Barrel + Brine, Toutant, Dobutsu, Casa Azul, BreadHive and the Black Sheep, which has pledged 50% of its food and drink sales for the evening.

See goodgraceny.com for the complete restaurant list and testimonies on the impact the Oles family has had on these operations – and operators.

(Those unable to attend may donate to the fund set up to assist the Oles family.)

Daniel Oles, 63, helped make local vegetables the pride of restaurants

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