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February 15, 2014

Otsego 2000 offers help for local food producers

By Denise Richardson Reporter's Notebook
The Daily Star

---- — Local farm and food entrepreneurs interested in developing goods and markets are sought for a survey to help develop business connections and access to commercial kitchens.

Otsego 2000, a nonprofit organization that sponsors the Cooperstown Farmers’ Market, has posted a survey online to gauge interest and needs of existing and future agricultural and food producers. Meanwhile, the organization is working on a map and directory to identify commercial kitchens within a 50-mile radius of Cooperstown, Lyn Weir, manager of the Cooperstown Farmers’ Market and agricultural programs at Otsego 2000, said Thursday.

“Agricultural and food businesses of all kinds could expand into a variety of value-added food products given access to a 20-C commercial kitchen,” Weir said in a media release. “The lack of such a facility is a barrier to start-ups and business expansion. Establishing how many folks would use such a facility, and what their specific needs might be, is vital to assessing whether this project moves forward with an additional facility in our area or provides support for the already existing facilities in a 50-mile radius.’’

Commercial kitchens monitor food safety for the public, and understanding the layers of licensing requirements is complicated, the release said. Chocolate makers and caterers need a 20-C licensed kitchen, and other instances requiring such a facility are when:

• An orchard makes fruit jam and wants to add hot peppers to the recipe.

• A produce farmer has more in the field than can be sold at harvest and wants to pickle, dry, freeze, can or package produce.

Interest in locally grown food and locally produced food products continues to increase, with demand in New York city is estimated at $1 billion and nowhere near being met, the release said. Commercial kitchens are a critical piece in the supporting infrastructure needed to promote production and market growth locally.

Otsego 2000 has contracted with QuestionPro, an independent research firm, to conduct the confidential survey, which is available at or through

The survey deadline is March 15, said Weir, who may be reached at 547-6195.

Italian restaurant opens in Oneonta

Toscana Northern Italian Grill has opened at 76 Chestnut St. in Oneonta.

The restaurant will feature northern Italian cuisine, said Tony Pepaj, co-owner with Angelo Carimando.

Pepaj, who previously was chef at the Italian Kitchen in Oneonta, said the Chestnut Street restaurant has seven employees and seats about 50 diners. Their similar restaurant, Toscana Italian Fusion & Grill Cooperstown, has been open two years, Pepaj said, and they wanted to return to the Oneonta market. The restaurant at 64 Main St. in Cooperstown will remain open, he said.

Toscana in Oneonta opened Thursday and will be open for dinner from 4 to 10 p.m. daily, Pepaj said. The restaurant telephone number is 267-4530.

Psychologist earns re-certification

Adriana Steffens, owner of Mind Matters Neurofeedback Centers, has earned a higher level of certification in neurofeedback, according to a media release from the Biofeedback Certification International Alliance, formerly the Biofeedback Certification Institute of America, in Wheat Ridge, Colo.

Steffens, a clinical psycho-physiologist, has a practice that provides services in Delaware, Otsego, Broome and Chenango counties. She has been in business locally for eight years, providing tests that help understand brain functioning and specialized programs to correct brain dysregulation. Neurotherapy addresses symptoms of migraine and tension headaches, depression, chronic pain and other conditions.

The Biofeedback Certification International Alliance was established in 1981 to certify individuals who meet education and training standards and to re-certify those who advance their knowledge. More than 1,600 healthcare professionals have achieved this certification in 25 countries, the release said.

Mind Matters Neurofeedback Centers are in Oneonta, Delhi, Norwich and Binghamton.

Fire at Autumn Cafe under investigation

Oneonta Fire Department crews responded to a fire at the Autumn Cafe, 244 Main St., on Tuesday night.

The cause of the blaze, which was in the kitchen area, remained under investigation but isn’t suspicious, Assistant Fire Chief James Maloney said Thursday.

The restaurant was open for business Thursday.

Maloney said a tenant upstairs from the restaurant reported at 10:59 p.m. Tuesday that smoke was in the apartment. Crews broke into the closed restaurant, where sprinklers had kept the fire in check, Maloney said. Additional water from a water-extinguisher and a hose put out the blaze, he said.

Damage from the fire was limited, Maloney said, but water damage resulted in the restaurant and in the business downstairs.

To share a business news item, contact Denise Richardson, staff writer, at (607) 432-1000, ext. 213, or at