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Taste of Buffalo Celebrates 25 Years

After a cold Buffalo winter there so many things to look forward to when the flowers start to blossom and the thermostat rises. Throughout the country, cities and towns, big and small, celebrate the simple pleasures in life–food and drink. Some are grandiose and well known like the Aspen Food and Wine classic, but Buffalo holds the great distinction of holding the second largest food festival in the country.
This year, “The Taste” celebrates its 25th year with some interesting changes and old favorites to please the senses. Over the past quarter century the event has grown from a humble 10,000 attendees to nearly a quarter million expected this year.
I was able to speak with Kevin Cavalieri, Chairman of the event, about this year’s Taste of Buffalo, and we shared the excitement of this year’s event, its history and the changes that will take place. This year they will be offering $1 taste-sized portions of the menu items, which will allow people to sample more food for less cost. Something new to enjoy at the Taste of Buffalo will be a stage devoted to cooking demonstrations, which will feature local chefs including our own Shayna Raichilson-Zadok, owner of Bohemian Hostess at Steel Crazy Café and Hell’s Kitchen fame.
It will be up to the individual chefs whether they will take questions, but the 45-minute presentation will help those looking on to cook flavorful and unique meals at home. This being a food festival, it seemed logical to show how local chefs work their magic. There will be a live band playing between sets. Don Gervase will be the MC on Saturday and Dennis George will be hosting on Sunday. Think Emeril Live! Buffalo style.
There has always been music at Taste of Buffalo and this year there will be a wide assortment of bands from the Western New York area. There is sure to be a band that fits your individual tastes from blues and country to rock and pop. Bands will include More than Me, Against All Odds and McCarthyizm. Buffalo has some awesome musical talent, and this is a great venue to show off their musical prowess to the local community.
Reed Rankin of RPM Entertainment Productions is the mastermind behind getting the music and entertainment ready for the Taste of Buffalo. This is the first year he has been involved in the event and the board members sought him out to make a change. They wanted to see different faces and show off the local talent. Reed stated that the board members wanted to focus on new acts never seen at the Taste of Buffalo. RPM received over 90 submissions from all music genres, both locally and throughout the East Coast. Rankin said it was a hard task narrowing the talent down to 22 acts. Genres will be listed for each band on the Taste of Buffalo website and include Latin Jazz, Reagge, alternative rock and Celtic, bands that represent the diversity of Buffalo.
Now on to the best part: The food! Restaurants often close shop days before the event and Kevin states they are careful to make sure there are no overlap in food so that each booth you go to will have different options. They desire a wide selection of food from barbeque to Indian. This year brings restaurants such as La Marina and Fiamma to the event. It has been mentioned that there has been a lack of more “upscale” restaurants at times at the Taste, but now patrons will be able to try these unique seafood and steak dishes along with their favorite hot dogs from Louie’s and steamed dumplings from Spicy Thai. Top those off with a crisp white from Niagara Landing and a dessert from Sweet Tooth, and you have a meal!
Some of the dishes Cavalieri comes back for year after year are Red Osier prime roast beef sandwich, and the vegetable curry from Tandori. Personally, I try many of the healthy choices and then go wild on the desserts and wine.
This year the Taste of Buffalo will be held on Saturday, July 12, from 11AM to 9PM and Sunday, July 13, from 11AM to 7PM, presented by Tops Market. Take a peak at their website for more information on the restaurants and wineries involved and chart your menu.

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