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Ancient grains making a gourmet comeback in NYC, journalists can get private taste

Media Contact

Daryl Lovell


Media-only lunch to feature ancient wheat varieties growing in popularity at New York City artisanal bakeries, restaurants and farmers markets. These grains promote sustainable agriculture, feature robust flavors, and benefit farmers economically. Cornell professor Mark Sorrells and GrowNYC’s June Russell will detail the expanding connection between Upstate farmers and NYC consumers, and findings from their recent paper highlighting the unconventional grains. Executive chef Suzanne Cupps will also talk about menu items at Untitled at the Whitney Museum that feature these grains.


Tuesday, July 18, noon to 1:30 p.m.


Untitled at the Whitney Museum, 99 Gansevoort St.


To attend this journalists-only lunch, please contact Daryl Lovell at (607) 592-3925 or by e-mail at

NEW YORK – When cooking your favorite pasta or enjoying a delicious type of bread or baked good, how much thought do you give to the wheat and grains that make that food possible?

For nearly a century, there were only a few types of wheat and white flour that dominated the market. Thanks to Cornell University plant breeding and genetics researchers, ancient grains that promote sustainable agriculture and have enhanced flavors are finding their way to plates in New York City and across the Northeast – in everything from sourdough and yeast breads, to matza, and pasta.

Journalists will have the opportunity to sample these ancient grains and meet the Cornell researchers and GrowNYC’s Grains Project managers leading the effort at a journalists-only lunch from noon to 1:30 p.m. at Untitled at the Whitney Museum. Untitled, which has incorporated some of the alternative grains onto its menu, will provide tastes of the latest grains that are growing in popularity.

Older varieties and ancient forms of wheat such as emmer and einkorn have been out of mainstream production for close to a century, so little was known about what varieties might be best-suited for organic growing in the region. This Cornell-led project provides research-backed, farm-to-table information on which modern, ancient and heritage wheat varieties are most adapted for Northeastern climates under organic conditions. It also provides best processing practices, avenues for marketing them, and explains how these varieties fare as bread, pasta and baked goods.

Presenters include:

  • Professor Mark Sorrells, a leader with the Cornell Small Grains Project, which has been developing innovative approaches to crop improvement for more than 100 years. Sorrells researches strategies that contribute to the development of superior crop varieties for both conventional and organic cropping systems.
  • Suzanne Cupps, the executive chef of Untitled and Studio Cafe in the Whitney Museum of American Art, which has incorporated ancient grains onto its menu.
  • June Russell, manager of farm inspections and strategic development at Greenmarket, which is a program of GrowNYC. Russell is also a key leader with the Regional Grains Project. Greenmarket operates farmers markets in 51 locations across all five New York City boroughs and provides a bridge between growers and consumers.

Results from the Value-Added Grains for Local and Regional Food Systems projectwere summarized in a paper co-authored in part by Mark Sorrells and June Russell, “Evaluation of Wheat and Emmer Varieties for Artisanal Baking, Pasta Making and Sensory Quality,” which published this year in the Journal of Cereal Science. They will discuss their findings at the July 18 event.


About Inside Cornell: This event is part of a series held in New York City featuring high-interest experts working at Cornell University in Ithaca and in New York City. The free sessions are on-the-record, and media members are welcome to record video and audio as desired.