The Taste of Buffalo presented by Tops Markets, the country's largest annual two-day food festival, is preparing for its 28th year of whetting the appetites and filling the stomachs of thousands of food loving attendees. The delectable event returns to downtown Buffalo along Delaware Avenue and Niagara Square on Saturday, July 9 and Sunday, July 10. This year's Taste features almost 60 restaurants and half a dozen wineries as well as a culinary stage, musical entertainment and plenty of special offerings from a host of national and local sponsors.
"If you love food the Taste is the place to be. We have 57 outstanding restaurants from all over WNY in one place," said Mark Zawodzinski, 2011 Taste chairman. "You can visit your favorite restaurant and try somewhere new without even getting in your car. This year, each restaurant will be offering a smaller size portion of one of their signature items, allowing you to enjoy a taste item at ten different restaurants and only spend $20. Get a Taste of ten for $20, as we call it, is just one of the many opportunities festival-goers have to look forward to this year."
New this year, each restaurant is offering a taste-sized item of their signature dish for only $2 or four tickets. For $20 attendees can get a "taste" of ten restaurants.
More than 200 food items, ranging from Asian to barbecue to Italian to sweet treats and everything in between, are available for sampling from 57 restaurants. Restaurants participating in their first Taste this year include: 31 Club, 58 Main, Alex's Place, Byblos, Hog Wild BBQ, Laughlin's, MaGavin's, Melanie's Sweets Unlimited, Molinaro's Ristorante, Nitro Magic Ice Cream, Parings Wine Bar and Sample Restaurant.
Wine enthusiasts can sample vintages from Glenora Wine Cellars, Hazlitt Vineyards, Knapp Winery, Merritt Estate Winery, Niagara Landing Wine Cellars, Spring Lake Winery and Woodbury Vineyards.
"Tops is proud to serve as the presenting sponsor of the Taste of Buffalo," said Tops Markets' president and CEO, Frank Curci. "Not only does the Taste showcase the region's most talented food establishments, but also gives back to the Western New York community in a big way. This year we'll have more excitement than ever at the Tops tent as Taste-goers will enjoy delicious, freshly prepared signature dishes in addition to prizes and giveaways."
Presale food ticket vouchers, available in $10 certificates, can now be purchased right at the register at participating Tops Markets through July 10th. The certificates are redeemable at any ticket booth during the Taste. Stop by the Tops tent at the Taste to spin the wheel for a chance to win great prizes. All proceeds benefit Summit Educational Services. Tops pharmacists are also available at the Tops Pharmacy tent located inside Niagara Square offering a variety of free product samples while supplies last.
"After 28 years, the Taste of Buffalo has become the largest two-day food festival in the country, but it's about more than just good food," said City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown. "This event is one of the best summer festivals in Buffalo for food, families and fun. I welcome the visitors from around the country that will come to downtown Buffalo to support our local vendors and charities."
Festival-goers can now text a vote for their favorite Taste item as part of AT&T's Fan Favorite Food Award. Item numbers and texting information will be available during the event in the Taste's festival guide and also on signage posted at every restaurant. Standard text messaging rates apply.
The Culinary Stage presented by Nickel City Chef, Artisan Kitchens & Bath and Buffalo Spree Magazine and sponsored by Jack Daniels EZ Marinader, is located in the New Era parking lot under a nice cool tent. Enjoy side-by-side, one-of-a-kind cooking competitions and demonstrations. Audience members will enjoy samples before each segment from Tops Markets and others, and Independent Health will present a Fresh & Healthy cooking demo. Audience members will be selected at random to help judge the competitions and the audience will get pom poms to help root for their favorite chef!
National and local sponsors have family-friendly activities and sampling planned throughout the two-day event, including:
• Ford Drive One Tour returns to the Taste with the latest Ford vehicles, including the 2012 Focus and 2011 F150 EcoBoost. Demonstrations of the SYNC® with MyFord Touch™, which controls most devices in your vehicle using touch-sensitive buttons, thumb-wheel controls and voice recognition, will be held throughout the event.
• Marking its fifth year, the Taste is still the only food festival in the country that requires all participating restaurants to offer a healthy menu item as part of the Taste and Independent Health Foundation's "Healthy Options" program. These items are lower in fat, cholesterol and sodium.
• The Lunchables Project Potential Tour is back for another year with fun and interactive activities for kids celebrating Lunchables' new fruit products.
• Visit D'Avolio Olive Oils and Vinegars for a free tasting of fresh, cold-pressed olive oils and balsamic vinegars.
• Cool down at the Lipton Lounge and enjoy delicious tea creations from Lipton's master mixologist!
• Take a closer look at the latest vehicles that the Chrysler Group has to offer, including the Chrysler 300, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Durango and others on site. Be sure to sign up for the Lucky Day Car Giveaway Sweepstakes where one lucky winner will be drawn from the Northeast U.S. and awarded up to $30,000 towards the Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge or RAM of their choice.
• Grab a free sample of Green Mountain Coffee and have the chance to record a video, take a photo or send a text statement to capture your Green Mountain Coffee Revelation.
• Be sure to stop by The Taste of Sugardale mobile kitchen to try some of Sugardale's best summer recipes featuring ham, hot dogs, brats and bacon.
• The Smurfs are making a comeback and they are slated to make their Taste debut between noon - 4pm on both Saturday and Sunday as they promote their new upcoming 3D live action film in theatres this summer and to show WNYers a smurfing time.
Other Taste sponsors include: Coke, Cabot Creamery Cheese, Fallsview Casino, Hamburg Casino on the Fairground, and New Era Cap Co. Limited-edition Taste caps will be on sale in the New Era flagship store. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Tops 4th Annual 5K Run/Family Walk and 10K Run to benefit Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
In addition to the food and special attractions, great live local music acts like Joyryde w/ the Hit Man Horns, Boys of Summer, Strictly Hip, Beatlemagic, Tom Sartori, Terry Buchwald's Tribute To Elvis and more will be presented on The Fashion Bug Stage at Delaware Avenue and Huron Street and the Tops Friendly Markets Stage at the south side of Niagara Square. Enjoy a DJ and karaoke at the Huron Street Labatt Blue Party Tent or play the bean bag toss game inside the Niagara Square Labatt Blue Party Tent!
The week before the festival, download the festival guide and restaurant map to plan your day at www.tasteofbuffalo.com. The festival guide also contains valuable coupons and some great offers and recipes! Guides are also available at the ticket booths.
The Taste is a not-for-profit organization with more than 1,000 volunteers helping to put on the annual event. More than $250,000 has been raised at the festival for local charities including Compass House, Hospice, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Meals on Wheels of Western New York and National Kidney Foundation. In addition, five $1,000 scholarships are awarded annually to local high school seniors pursuing a culinary or hospitality-related degree.
Entry Image: Frank Curci, president & CEO of Tops Markets and this year's poster winner, Felicia Drozdowski.