Master-Crafted Series Posts | Finger Lakes Region
Discover - Experience - Savor - Inspire
Local Insights

Master-Crafted Series Posts

2 Crocked Pots - Made in Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes
2 Crocked Pots - Made in Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes
Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes is known for excellence. Whether it's our remarkable landscape, our world-class museums, or the exceptional wines, beers and other craft beverages we produce.

As a way of providing visitors access to many of the quality products made right here in Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes, we have brought many of our talented artisans and master craftspeople together under one brand - Made in Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes.

Looking for functional art? Experience the beautiful ceramic art of Pam and Cub Storms from 2 Crocked Pots, like one-of-a-kind handmade pots, meticulously hand-painted, with no duplicates. Tour the studio, visit the showroom, watch Cub and Pam use various techniques to create beautiful ceramic works of art.

2 Crocked Pots - Made in Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes
2 Crocked Pots - Made in Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes

In addition to wheel-thrown pottery, Pam has also created an extensive line of "wearable art" jewelry.

2 Crocked Post Jewelry - Made in Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes
2 Crocked Post Jewelry - Made in Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes

Love animals? Know someone who enjoys working with fleece or yarn? Heavenly Sunset Farm is home to over 40 alpacas, plus three Great Pyrenees dogs, and other livestock. Stop by to see the animals or visit the Heavenly Soft Fibers farm store which features a variety of soft, warm, wonderful products made with alpaca fiber.

Heavenly Sunset Farm Alpaca
Heavenly Sunset Farm Alpaca

Raw fleece, rovings and yarn (and accessories made from it) are 100% from the farm's alpacas.

Heavenly Soft Fibers Farm Store
Heavenly Soft Fibers Farm Store

Want to do some shopping and try your own hand at creating something special? Hands-On Glass Studio has an array of beautiful glass art already made right in the studio, but they also offer hands-on glassmaking opportunities.

Hands-On Glass Studio - Made in Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes
Hands-On Glass Studio - Made in Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes

Blow a glass ornament. Shape glass into a flower. Call the studio to set up an appointment and create a work of art for someone special.

Hands-On Glass Studio - Made in Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes
Hands-On Glass Studio - Made in Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes

Heritage Village of the Southern Finger Lakes is more than a collection of historical buildings. It's a living history museum with special events throughout the year featuring costumed docents and reenactments. It's also a wonderful spot for unique workshops and classes, like those offered in the blacksmith shop.

Heritage Village of the Southern Finger Lakes
Heritage Village of the Southern Finger Lakes

For interesting metal products made by the museum's resident blacksmiths, stop by the museum's shop.

Heritage Village of the Southern Finger Lakes - Made in Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes
Heritage Village of the Southern Finger Lakes - Made in Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes

Stop by SoulShine Studio for some beautiful glass bead jewelry.

Soulshine Studio Jewelry - Made in Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes
Soulshine Studio Jewelry - Made in Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes

Or grab a few friends and take a class beading your own keepsake.

Soulshine Studio Jewelry - Made in Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes
Soulshine Studio Jewelry - Made in Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes

Of course, in addition to the wonderful products you can find at each of the respective producers, you can find items from all of the Made in Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes producers at Corning's Information Center located on Centwerway Square.

To learn more about the wonderful products and our other Made in Corning & the Southern Finger Lakes producers, visit our Made Local page. And keep your eyes out for the Made in Corning & the Southern Finger Lakes logo which is a sign of quality, locally made goods.

Made in Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes Logo
Made in Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes Logo

continue reading
Cool and Fun, Family Fun, Master-Crafted Series, Museums

You might think "beer" and "breakfast" would only be a natural fit for college undergrads and craft beer lovers. Leave it to Chef Debbie Meritsky of Black Sheep Inn and Spa to concoct delicious proof of just how well the two really go together.

Falling Leaf Porter & Beer Batter Pancakes with Ganache
Falling Leaf Porter & Beer Batter Pancakes with Ganache
A graduate of the New England Culinary Institute, Debbie jumped at the chance to provide a recipe you can try at home. Of course, she recommends that you follow your own instincts and taste buds whenever using a recipe. Consider it more a guide than must-follow rules.
Beer Batter Pancakes with Ganache and Eggs
Beer Batter Pancakes with Ganache and Eggs

Beer Batter Pancakes with Ganache

Batter

The first ingredient you need is a good pancake mix. Debbie starts with the multigrain mix they have milled specifically for Black Sheep Inn.

Serves 4 people:

  • 2 cups dry multigrain pancake mix
  • ¾ cup oil – (Debbie recommends olive oil, but use your favorite)
  • 1 cup beer – (Debbie uses Falling Leaf Porter from The Brewery of Broken Dreams – which has hints of chocolate and coffee flavors)
  • 2 cups water (or other liquid of your choice)

Brewery of Broken Dreams Flight of Craft Beers
Brewery of Broken Dreams Flight of Craft Beers
Mix the batter in a large stainless steel bowl. Debbie prefers to let the batter sit on a counter overnight (covered with saran wrap) which allows it to thicken. When it comes time to make the pancakes you can add more liquid to adjust thickness if desired.

     TIP: - add ¼ cup Ganache (see recipe below) to the batter to accentuate flavors of chocolate coming out of the beer.

Chocolate Ganache from Chef Debbie Meritsky
Chocolate Ganache from Chef Debbie Meritsky
Ganache

You can use your favorite type of chocolate – sweet, semi-sweet, dark.
Debbie used dark.

  • 2 cups chocolate - chopped in a medium stainless steel bowl
       (chop the chocolate into small, meltable pieces)
  • 1 stick organic butter - cut into chunks
  • 2 cups half-and-half (or cream depending on your preference)

Black Sheep Inn and Spa Kitchen
Black Sheep Inn and Spa Kitchen
Blend ingredients in a medium stainless steel bowl over a "hot water bath" (put a pot of water on a burner on simmer, hold stainless steel bowl over the hot water, and whisk for 10-15 minutes)

Leave the Ganache as is, or add additional flavors if you wish. Debbie adds a couple tablespoons of hazelnut.

As mentioned above, add a little Ganache to the batter and set the remaining Ganache to the side (keep warm).

Maple Syrup With Falling Leaf Porter
Maple Syrup With Falling Leaf Porter
Syrup

Debbie even enhances her syrup so it compliments the pancakes by adding in a little of the same tasty Falling Leaf Porter. She tries to use local ingredients whenever possible and this is true of the maple syrup as well.

  • 2 cups local maple syrup
  • 1 cup beer – Falling Leaf Porter

Reduce the syrup by 1/3 over medium heat. Use medium heat to reduce the syrup.

     TIP: - when reducing the syrup, place your pan halfway on a burner (so that half of the pan is off the burner). This prevents the syrup from bubbling and also provides a more rolling method to the heat.

For more flavor, you may want to add a ½ stick of organic butter.

Chef Debbie Meritsky Ladling Syrup Over Beer Batter Pancakes
Chef Debbie Meritsky Ladling Syrup Over Beer Batter Pancakes
Now you have all the delectable components for the sort of pancakes that will have our family and friends still salivating weeks from now.

Drizzle Ganache Onto Center of One Pancake
Drizzle Ganache Onto Center of One Pancake
Once you've gotten your perfect, golden pancakes, add a dollop of the Ganache onto the top of one then lay a second pancake over that. As you eat, the chocolate will ooze into the pancakes adding more of that wonderful chocolate flavor.

Chef Debbie Meritsky Adds a Touch of Sugar
Chef Debbie Meritsky Adds a Touch of Sugar
Debbie sprinkles a little confectioner's sugar over the finished product, ladles on her special beer maple syrup, an egg cooked sunny-side up, and voila. Let the day begin!

*If you are interested in learning more about the bread and other baking mixes milled for the Black Sheep Inn and Spa, visit their shop online. Or better yet, call call 607.368.8471 and make a reservation for a fabulous getway and prepare to be spoiled.

Bread and Cake Mixes at Black Sheep Inn and Spa
Bread and Cake Mixes at Black Sheep Inn and Spa
Some people just know what they're called to do from an early age.

Having loved food since she was seven-years-old, Chef Debbie Meritsky is one of those people. Before she was even a teenager, she held her first dinner party for ten people and was busy taking cooking classes every chance she could.

Yet, despite discovering her true passion at such an early age, it wasn't until Debbie spent time in college that she decided to devote herself to food.

She certainly picked a great place to start when she enrolled at the New England Culinary Institute. After she finished cooking school, Debbie took her culinary training even further by moving around the country and working in high-end chef-owned restaurants gaining valuable experience and expertise.

Couple Enjoying Beer Batter Pancakes with Ganache
Couple Enjoying Beer Batter Pancakes with Ganache
By the age of twenty-six she was teaching cooking classes, working as a pastry chef, and starting her own private chef service – My Personal Chef, Inc. – which transformed into a full-service catering business as demand for her culinary creations continued to grow.

"Food is love," says Debbie. "It's sharing and it's communal. Wherever people gather, there is food at their table." Spend a little time with her and you'll soon realize that sharing her love for food and through food is at the core of who she is. It's behind everything she does.

Although her initial intention may have been to one day open a restaurant when she first went to school in Vermont, her views have evolved over the years which is why she's so passionate about teaching people about food, and about "why eating a 'Real, Clean Diet' is beneficial."

Black Sheep Inn and Spa Kitchen
Black Sheep Inn and Spa Kitchen
"Food," she points out, "seems mystical to those who don't know much about preparation, sourcing, or how to introduce unknown ingredients to a recipe they love." That's why many of the conversations she has with the guests at Black Sheep Inn, and also during the one-on-one cooking classes she offers at the inn, are focused on teaching them the best practices, but also on showing them that "healthy" food isn't tasteless food.

Debbie is an advocate for Farm-to-Table eating which she claims "has more to do with the way our ancestors ate, allowing for our bodies to adjust and the land to heal and replenish."

Black Sheep Inn and Spa - Two Breakfasts
Black Sheep Inn and Spa - Two Breakfasts
Although Black Sheep Inn and Spa offers an amazing Farm-to-Table breakfast every morning, sourced from local farms within the Finger Lakes region, Debbie makes sure to learn about her guests' food allergies and dietary restrictions to ensure that they enjoy a nourishing, delicious meal, while maintaining their dietary protocols.

This very personal touch is an essential part of everything offered at the Inn, as Debbie and her husband, artist Marc Rotman, enjoy providing guests customized packages built around their interests, offering everything from spa treatment to stained glass classes to balloon rides.

Black Sheep Inn and Spa
Black Sheep Inn and Spa
After an extensive restoration of an octagonal home originally built in 1859, Debbie and Marc opened the Black Sheep Inn and Spa to guests, offering comfortable upscale accommodations and distinctive services to discerning travelers visiting the Finger Lakes region.

Debbie's combination of creative thinking and the inn's location in "America's Coolest Small Town" allows her to take advantage of her culinary skills to offer her guests a wide variety of experiences. She and Marc have created an oasis from the stress of everyday life.

Hammondsport's Depot Park in Autumn
Hammondsport's Depot Park in Autumn

Although I didn't specifically ask Debbie for the secret to great food, she revealed it anyway.

When asked for a cooking tip she might share, in addition to the incredible recipe above, Debbie suggests stepping outside your "regular 'comfortable' day-to-day eating and preparation habits and trying something new, whether it's a 'recipe,' an ingredient, or simply who you're cooking for. And," she urges, "DON'T follow a recipe. Cook from your soul!"

continue reading
Ask the Local Expert, Beer, Dining, Lodging, Master-Crafted Series

 

Flaming Saganaki Cheese at Luna Mezza Grille courtesy of Stu Galagher
Flaming Saganaki Cheese at Luna Mezza Grille courtesy of Stu Galagher
Whether you're entertaining for Super Bowl Sunday or you're simply looking to experience a fun, delicious new treat, you'll want to try Chef Joe Rotsell's recipe for Flaming Saganaki Cheese.

Prepare to hear your friends gasp in awe. Prepare to have your family clap (how often does that happen over a meal). Oh yeah, and prepare to enjoy a dish that tastes amazing!

Saganaki Cheese

Just say, "Cheese," and the corners of your mouth turn up, your cheeks lift, and your teeth show.

That's the effect the word has when spoken - a simulated smile. Taste some cheese, though, and that smile becomes real.

Did you know the average Americans gobbles up about 23 pounds of cheese each year? But seldom do they do it with as much pizzazz as we're about to reveal.

Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes was built on innovation, the kind that changes the world, especially when it comes to aviation, glass, and wine. But it was also built on hard work and on farming. One thing our farmers specialize in is dairy. And that means cheese.

Cheese is also one thing our chefs know how to use in a million different ways. Okay, maybe we haven't officially counted them all just yet, but that's only because there are so many.

Chef Joe Rotsell has a special cheese dish you can try making at home. One that combines equal parts showmanship and culinary wizardry. That's right, you can dazzle your friends with this one - the visual presentation and the absolute deliciousness.

At Luna Mezza Grille in Hammondsport, Chef Joe specializes in creating authentic Mediterranean cuisine, including Greek favorites like spicy lamb, grape leaves, and the crowd-pleasing Saganaki Cheese.

Chef Joe has agreed to kick off our new series of Master Crafted blog posts featuring a different local culinary guru each month sharing a favorite recipe that you can try at home. Have fun with it!

Luna Mezza's Flaming Saganaki Cheese courtesy of Stu Gallagher
Luna Mezza's Flaming Saganaki Cheese courtesy of Stu Gallagher

 

Friends Enjoying a Meal at Luna Mezza courtesy of Stu Gallagher
Friends Enjoying a Meal at Luna Mezza courtesy of Stu Gallagher
In our busy everyday lives, think about how often you eat a meal without slowing down, without really spending any time thinking about it, savoring it. The Saganaki Cheese dish isn't just one of flash. It's also one of substance – as a reminder to be aware of the people you're with, and to savor the moment (and to savor the cheese - it really is that good). It's also a reminder to celebrate – the meal itself, but also those with whom you've gathered to share it.

Various versions of this popular Greek dish are sometimes made using Graviera, Kefalograviera, Halloumi, Kasseri, Kefalotyri, or other regional Greek cheeses.

The Saganaki Cheese dish is one that is prepared in the kitchen at Luna Mezza Grille, but it's presented tableside. That means the chefs in the kitchen never get to see all the smiling faces when the flame ignites. But they do always know when it happens.

"You can tell when it gets lit," says Chef Joe. "It's rewarding," he adds, "to hear the Ooohs and Ahhhs out on the floor. To give customers that wow factor. And to know they're enjoying their meal."

Joe Rotsell is an Executive Chef. He's also an artist - a glassblower which seems fitting given that he grew up in Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes which is famous for the fire arts. And his passion for being creative is one of the things that led to his career as a chef.

"I've been cooking ever since I was fifteen," he says. "I started out working in this small hotdog and hamburger joint in Corning that was a favorite spot for the after-hours crowd. I was young, so I got the midnight shift. I must have weighed about 80 or 90 pounds back then. Guys from the bars were always coming in," he adds, "grabbing you by the arm and gruffly asking, 'where's my meal?'"

Young Joe was trying to save money to buy himself a car, but that first job started him on a path he probably didn't expect at the time. The next summer he got a job at a bigger restaurant and he's been at it ever since, working his way up to line cook, and eventually to chef at several places. He spent over a decade working as the Executive Chef for a Fortune 500 company and during that time he went to the Greystone Culinary Institute in Napa. He later worked as an Executive Chef at a private club, but he left the corporate world and the high society club behind and ventured back to the realm of the public restaurant bringing decades of experience and training with him.

He's been the Executive Chef at the Gaffer Grille and Taproom in Corning for the past four years and owners Dave and Karin Fice brought him with them when they decided to open Luna Mezza in 2014.

Friends Toasting Wine at Keuka Lake Vineyards courtesy of Stu Gallagher
Friends Toasting Wine at Keuka Lake Vineyards courtesy of Stu Gallagher

"They're great owners," says the chef. "They use top of the line equipment and ingredients." They engage with their staff and are suportive. "Running a kitchen is all about organization," adds Chef Joe. "It's about being prepared. All our chefs are cross trained so they know how to do every job." They enjoy changing things up and switching stations to keep things interesting. They also enjoy making excellent food.

For Luna Mezza's Flaming Saganaki Cheese, Chef Joe uses a Kefalograviera cheese they buy at a special Greek store. "Dave tried several authentic Greek cheeses and that's the one that he finally selected."

If you don't have access to Kefalograviera cheese, try another Greek cheese. Of course, as with any artist, experiment (though cheese out of a can doesn't really qualify as cheese in this instance - I say that in memory of my college roommates who loved spray cheese on anything - we're talking real authentic cheese here, folks). Try the sort of cheese you enjoy, though you'll probably find the cheeses mentioned here work best, as different styles will cook differently, will taste differently after being heated.

Take Chef Joe Rotsell's recipe, play with it, add to it. Mostly just enjoy it. But please use caution when playing with fire. Avoid lighting your saganaki cheese dish near curtains, for example. And, as tempting as it might be once you have that flame dancing in your hands, don't run around the room like some aspiring torch bearer.

Friends Enjoying Brews at Steuben Brewing Company courtesy of Stu Gallagher
Friends Enjoying Brews at Steuben Brewing Company courtesy of Stu Gallagher
Of course, if you don't want to make the Flaming Saganaki Cheese dish yourselves, stop up to Luna Mezza Grille on the Village Square in Hammondsport (maybe after wine tasting or after sampling some craft beers) and have Chef Joe make it for you. Tell him we sent you. He's always glad to create a dish that puts a smile on the customer's face. And his cheese dish will leave you smiling.

Oh, and remember, everyone yell, "OPA!"

continue reading
Ask the Local Expert, Beer, Cool and Fun, Dining, Family Fun, Master-Crafted Series

The Master Craftsmen series highlights people who have truly excelled in a craft or skill, and who are bettering the experience for visitors to Corning & the Southern Finger Lakes. Each month, we'll take a look at one of these craftsmen, from artists to chefs, and even outdoor guides. These are the folks who have trained and excelled in a particular area, and are passionate about what they do. They want to share their expertise with you. Today, we're focusing on Chris Merola, owner of Ranger Outfitters, who crafts the outdoor adventure on every guided hike into the Finger Lakes.

If there's one person you could call an expert when it comes to knowledge of the great outdoors in Steuben County, it's Chris Merola.

Chris Merola and Ranger
Chris Merola and Ranger

He grew up in Corning, and joined the military at age 18, where he picked up all kinds of outdoor skills, including land navigation. He spent a total of 28 years in the military, retiring just last year.

He found himself in the reserves and back in Corning in 2000. He was bored, and started looking for something new to do. That's when he stumbled upon the New York State Guide Program.

After becoming a licensed guide, he formed Ranger Outfitters in May of 2001, and has been taking people on guided hikes and camping trips ever since.

Hike at Birdseye Hollow Park
Hike at Birdseye Hollow Park

"The Finger Lakes Region is really just as beautiful as the Adirondacks, and I think it's a well-kept secret," Chris said. "My job as a guide is to teach people how to be comfortable in the woods so they can enjoy it."

Chris leads day-long hikes, overnight trips, and even 3 or 5-day excursions. If you're a beginner or expert hiker, Chris welcomes you.

"We've taken people up to 68 years old on a hike. We look at people's ability and age to plan an itinerary appropriate to their level of expertise."

Hiking in the Finger Lakes
Hiking in the Finger Lakes

When Chris builds his itineraries, he says, "you've got to have the 'Wow!' factor. Nobody wants to walk through the woods and end up in the middle of the forest. You have to have that surprise at the end."

Our staff took our president, Peggy Coleman, on a guided hike for her birthday and I can tell you Chris included that "Wow!" factor for us. He led us to a wonderful pond in the woods and then surprised Peggy (and us) with cake, fruit and milk to toast the birthday girl. It was a hike we will not forget!

Peggy's birthday hike surprise
Peggy's birthday hike surprise

You can contact Chris at (607) 542-3882 or read more at RangerOutfitters.com.

continue reading
Master-Crafted Series, Outdoor Recreation

The Master Craftsmen series highlights people who have truly excelled in a craft or skill, and who are bettering the experience for visitors to Corning & the Southern Finger Lakes. Each month, we'll take a look at one of these craftsmen, from artists to chefs, and even outdoor guides. These are the folks who have trained and excelled in a particular area, and are passionate about what they do. They want to share their expertise with you. Today, we're focusing on John Ingle, owner of Heron Hill Winery, who crafts wine using eco-friendly practices.

John Ingle - photo by Michele Kisly Fine Portraiture
John Ingle - photo by Michele Kisly Fine Portraiture

John Ingle discovered his lifelong passion completely by coincidence. He was helping a neighbor with the Concord harvest during the 1971 vintage, and was "bitten by the grape bug," as he put it.

"Something about the sun, crisp air, camaraderie, and chasing a wagon down the rows carrying a 35 lb. crate of hand-picked grapes struck a note for me."

He had no training or experience with winemaking. "I planted 12,000 vines in 1972 and began making mistakes. I remember weeds taller than the vines, tractors stuck in the mud hole." John stuck with it because he was convinced he'd found something that would make him happy for the rest of his life.

"I persevered and gradually produced enough grapes to make a small amount of wine. This process took about ten years." He started learning from winemakers, and eventually discovered he had a special interest in eco-friendly agriculture while attending Denver University. "My organic training came along as part of the vision," John said. "A natural, pure product that I could proudly share with family and friends. A simple proposition, but also a blueprint for a lifestyle."

Grapes at Harvest - photo courtesy of Heron Hill Winery
Grapes at Harvest - photo courtesy of Heron Hill Winery

More then 40 years later, John is now the owner of Heron Hill Winery, and is thrilled when people choose Heron Hill wines. "It's gratifying," John said, "because it indicates that they share our visions and agree with our principles."

Heron Hill Winery opened a Farmers Market in June 2014. They are open every Wednesday from 4-7pm in the summer. You can meet local farmers and buy local products from flowers and vegetables to meat and fruit jams.

Ribbon Cutting for Farmers Market - photo by Ken Corey
Ribbon Cutting for Farmers Market - photo by Ken Corey

continue reading
Attractions, Master-Crafted Series, Wine Fun

The Master Craftsmen series highlights people who have truly excelled in a craft or skill, and who are bettering the experience for visitors to Corning & the Southern Finger Lakes. Each month, we'll take a look at one of these craftsmen, from artists to chefs, and even outdoor guides. These are the folks who have trained and excelled in a particular area, and are passionate about what they do. They want to share their expertise with you. Today, we're focusing on someone who has made outdoor recreation an art form. Lance Locey of Keuka Watersports helps craft lake fun for visitors to Keuka Lake.

If there's anyone who knows how to have a good time on Keuka Lake, it's Lance Locey. He grew up a self-proclaimed "laker," spending his entire life on the shores of Keuka Lake.

"I was born into it, and now my wife and I are passing the 'Laker Life' on to our two young children," he said.

Opening Keuka Watersports just made sense. "Life on the lake is the life for me and my family," Lance said. "Opening a watersports business is the Finger Lakes just seemed to fit the next stage of my life.

"The lake always draws you back," said Lance, "no matter how far away you are or how long you've been gone."

Rent boats, jet skis, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards.
Rent boats, jet skis, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards.

Lance's customers come from all over the country, and love returning to the lake every year to take advantage of the boat, jet ski, kayak, and stand-up paddle board rentals. Check out the many boat rental options, including a Boat Club Membership, which essentially allows you all the benefits of owning a boat without actually owning a boat.

Many of the rentals at Keuka Watersports require advanced reservations, but if you find yourself in Hammondsport on a nice afternoon and want to get on the water, kayaks and stand-up paddle boards are available to rent by the hour at Champlin Beach at the head of Keuka Lake.

After folks spend a day out on Keuka, they tell Lance they "don't want to leave." His reply as he and his family head out for their evening cruise? "That's why we live here, so we don't have to leave!"

Lance Locey and family enjoying an evening on Keuka Lake.
Lance Locey and family enjoying an evening on Keuka Lake.

For some lake fun this summer, contact Keuka Watersports at 607.569.2889, visit them on the web at KeukaWatersports.com, or "like" them on Facebook.

continue reading
Attractions, Cool and Fun, Master-Crafted Series

This series highlights people who have truly excelled in a craft or skill, and who are bettering the experience for visitors to Corning & the Southern Finger Lakes. Each month, we'll take a look at one of these craftsmen, from artists to chefs, and even outdoor guides. These are the folks who have trained and excelled in a particular area, and are passionate about what they do. They want to share their expertise with you. Today, we're focusing on a great historian, Kirk House, who is the director of the Steuben County Historical Society. He has crafted the art of bringing history to life.

Kirk has always been fascinated with history. He grew up next door to a public library in Rhode Island, and couldn't read enough history books. He found he had a knack for story telling. He moved to Steuben County more then 20 years ago, becoming the director of the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum. He made it his mission to learn all he could about life of the great aviator, and to share the story with the world. He went on to become director of the Steuben County Historical Society, where he still works today. When he began the job, he proposed a mission statement of "Saving Steuben Stories - Telling Steuben Tales," he said. "To learn the history... to communicate it other professionals... and then to pull up a seat by the fire and tell the tales. That's how I live my life. My job is to be a storyteller for Steuben County."

We asked Kirk to share a few of his very favorite postcards from Steuben County's past. Let's take a look at Kirk's Top 5 picks!

1. The Finger Lakes Trail goes through Bradford, and it's still one of our loveliest rural towns. The split-rail fence wouldn't be in use today, but otherwise it's still just as great a place as this postcard suggests.

 

2. This aerial view of Painted Post captures the busy industrial history of the county, but also shows how that river could be quite a threat (before flood control) in days gone by.

 

3. Most people in America had never seen an airplane back in 1913. Hammondsporters had so many they were blasé (or at least that's what they told the tourists). Many of the homes and structures in this Keuka Lake scene are still there today.

 

4. Bath was celebrating its sesquicentennial back in 1943, right in the middle of World War II. This postcard is fun because the Red Cross ladies are skillfully avoiding the horse drippings. Liberty Street is asphalt now, rather than bricks, but all those commercial blocks are still busy.

 

5. I really like this one, because it makes me imagine having worked in Hornell at the railroad shops, all the livelong day. If I were taking the trolley home to Canisteo along this route, I suspect I'd feel a lot more relaxed by the time I got there!

continue reading
Master-Crafted Series

Keuka Brewing Co.
Keuka Brewing Co.

Last month, we brought you the first in our Master Craftsmen series, a look at G Brian Juk, a gaffer at The Corning Museum of Glass. This series highlights people who have truly excelled in a craft or skill, and who are bettering the experience for visitors to Corning & the Southern Finger Lakes. Each month, we'll take a look at one of these craftsmen, from artists to chefs, and even outdoor guides. These are the folks who have trained and excelled in a particular area, and are passionate about what they do. They want to share their expertise with you.

The Finger Lakes is well known as an exceptional wine region, producing award-winning vintages, and delighting visitors to the more than 130 wineries. With extremely decorated wineries like Dr. Frank's Vinifera Wine Cellars, Heron Hill Winery, and Ravines Wine Cellars, the country's second-largest wine-producing region is gaining national attention for its expertise in winemaking. But what many people don't realize is that there's more to the story. There's something brewing here in the Finger Lakes. Within the last handful of years, more than 50 breweries have sprung up through the region, adding to the tasting experience, and challenging wine lovers to try something new.

Rich Musso of Keuka Brewing Co.
Rich Musso of Keuka Brewing Co.

When Rich Musso's winemaker friend moved, Rich was the lucky recipient of his beermaking equipment. He made a couple batches that turned out fairly well, and perhaps more significantly, he found he really enjoyed the process. It wasn't long before he was experimenting with different recipes, and becoming comfortable making his own craft beer.

In 2006, Rich knew it was time to do something different before the onset of another economic downturn. "A winery was out of the question, since there are so many in our area," he said. His then partner suggested a microbrewery. "We figured it might be a great idea or disastrous," Rich noted, but they moved ahead with their plans anyway. Keuka Brewing Co. LLC opened its doors in September 2008, becoming the first microbrewery in the area.

"We gambled that wine drinkers would also embrace beer," Rich said. "The tourists in the area really have embraced the brewery and our beer."

Keuka Brewing originally produced 15 gallons of beer at a time, but the demand for the product grew rapidly and they now make 110 gallons at once.

The flavors of Keuka Brewing Co.
The flavors of Keuka Brewing Co.

"A lot of dedication, heart and soul were poured into this brewery," said Rich, "and we think this is reflected in the quality of beer." Rich is always trying out new styles and flavors of beer. "Staying true to our microbrewery roots, we are not afraid of experimentation. We still have that 'home brewer' mentality, constantly trying to come up with the next unique beer."   

Just a few of those unique flavors include White Cap Wazz-berry, Briglin Road Red, Hoppy Laker IPA, and Bluff Point Brown.

Next time you're out tasting the wines of Keuka Lake, make sure to stop by Keuka Brewing Co. for something a little bit different. "Our tasting room is a unique and relaxed atmosphere," Rich said. "It's beer - you can't take yourself so seriously. Even people who strictly drink wine will often find a beer or two they enjoy drinking here, much to their surprise."

Have you been to Keuka Brewing Co., or any of the breweries in the Finger Lakes?

continue reading
Attractions, Master-Crafted Series

We're starting a new blog series, highlighting our "master craftsmen." These are people who have truly excelled in a craft or skill, and who are bettering the experience for visitors to Corning & the Southern Finger Lakes. Each month, we'll take a look at one of these craftsmen, from artists to chefs, and even outdoor guides. These are the folks who have trained and excelled in a particular area, and are passionate about what they do. They want to share their expertise with you.

 

G Brian creating a masterpiece during the Hot Glass Show.
G Brian Corning Museum of Glass

If there's one thing that differentiates Corning from the rest of the Finger Lakes, it's our glass. It's what the Crystal City is known for, but it's safe to say it would never have been possible without the skill, expertise, and dedication it took for some very talented craftsmen to master the art of glassmaking. Corning has been home to all kinds of glass experts, from scientists to artists. Today, we'll take a look at one artist in particular, and learn what made him fall in love with glass and why he wants to share his passion with the world.

G Brian Juk is a gaffer (glassworker) at The Corning Museum of Glass. He entertains and educates thousands of people every year through his demonstrations during Hot Glass Shows. He has even taken his skills to sea aboard select Celebrity ships that hold Hot Glass Show stages.

But G Brian wasn't always interested in glass. His love of art began with making jewelry and pottery, and he found he had a deep connection with utilitarian work. "Using something handmade in daily rituals is a strong motif in my work today," G Brian said. "I love the notion of having a conversation with someone who is drinking from a tumbler or using a vase, a non-spoken relationship between people."

A piece by William Morris, an early inspiration of G Brian's.
William Morris Corning Museum of Glass

G Brian was first introduced to glass in high school. He attended a show by glass artist William Morris at the Habitat Gallery near his hometown, Detroit, Michigan. "His work was not functional, the exact opposite of everything that I had been doing up to that point," G Brian said. "His work has a narrative, but is up to the viewer to discern." G Brian was very intrigued.

"I tried it myself at a studio called Michigan Hot Glass," he continued. "I knew right away that this was for me."

G Brian chose to attend Alfred University in Upstate NY where he became immersed in the art of glassmaking. He earned a BFA and K-12 art teaching certification during his time at Alfred.

Perfecting his craft.
G Brian Corning Museum of Glass

Although G Brian has been working with glass for 14 years now, he is still learning how to master his chosen craft. "It's funny," he said, "after six years I thought I had figured it out and was getting the hang of it. Then, after ten years I realized it will take a lifetime to perfect."

G Brian's lifetime of experimentation with glass continues to dazzle thousands of visitors to The Corning Museum of Glass. "I hope that others will take away a new appreciation for what it takes to create something from glass," he said. "It is amazing to think that you can design a piece in your mind and then create it with your hands. One moment a molten blob of hot glass, and the next, it is your imagination realized.

"I am excited to create glass before a live audience and to share with them my vision of the material," he continued. "This embodies the museum's mission statement from an artistic level. I am proud to carry on a rich tradition of glass making that has been going on in Corning, NY, for over 150 years."

For more information about G Brian Juk and his fellow gaffers, visit www.CMOG.org, and catch them in action during a Hot Glass Show at The Corning Museum of Glass!

All images courtesy of The Corning Museum of Glass.

Request your new 2014 Steuben County Travel Guide!
2014 Steuben County Travel Guide

Make sure to request a Finger Lakes Travel Guide, highlighting many master craftsmen throughout Corning & the Southern Finger Lakes.

continue reading
Master-Crafted Series, Museums

Share this page!

Wine Traditions and Innovations on Keuka
Keuka Lake has been a place for innovation and creation for wineries in the Finger Lakes region for over 150 years. Discover the wineries that have been a part of the Finger Lakes history for decades to the up and coming wineries that are bringing a new diverse take on wine...
We can't wait to see you!
No matter your reason for visiting Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes, it’s important to us that you have an exceptional experience in our ‘neck-of-the-woods’. This lodging page is designed so that you may easily search, navigate, and book your perfect home for your stay. Happy vacationing!
E-newsletter Sign-up
Sign up to receive information on special promotions, packages and events!!!
Begin Master Crafting Your Experience
Find lots of ways to enhance your Finger Lakes escape and customize your visit to fit your specific travel style.
Steuben County Conference & Visitors Bureau
1 West Market Street, Corning, NY 14830
Toll Free: 1-866-946-3386 Tel: 607-936-6544
Fax: 607-936-6575
All Rights Reserved.
I LOVE NEW YORK is a registered trademark and service mark of the New York State Department of Economic Development; used with permission.
Corning Vacation Rentals