Foodies will be happy to know that there is a mixed bag of gourmet goodies coming to Elmwood Avenue – though not in a building that you might expect. It was only a couple of days ago that I received an email from Maria Kahn, explaining her concept of limited prepared foods and exquisite handmade culinary creations. The building (more of a house) is located at the corner of Amherst Street and Elmwood (formerly Richie’s). Maria started off preparing many of her creations in the professional kitchen at Massachusetts Avenue Project (MAP). It was there that she discovered that she could take her home cooking expertise to the next level. So she hooked up with Cornell University and started to package many of her concoctions.
From there she did the roadshow. She set up at farmers’ markets and discovered that customers had insatiable appetites for her recipes. The more that she brought to the market, the more that she would sell. People bought into the freshness, the blending of flavors and the local slant that she offered. Then she teamed up with Mary Chameli, connoisseur of everything sweet. The two comined their energy and took the catering circuit by storm, preparing distinctive appetizer and dessert pairings on their own platters… apparently it made quite a statement. It was then that folks began to prompt Maria to open her own gourmet ‘market’. She ultimately left the MAP kitchen in search of a place to call her own. A year and a half later, she is on the verge of opening a tantalizing business that will afford her a permanent presence in the WNY culinary scene.
The name ‘Tastings’ was chosen to encourage future customers to stop in and sample the one-of-kind offerings. And when I say “one-of-a-kind” I really mean it. “The product line consists of Tapenades, pesto, dressing, marinades, hot pepper sauce etc.,” Maria told me. “And it’s expanding. The demand for my products after the farmers’ market ended, along with the other services Tastings offers, inspired me to have everything at my own location. I began giving my product to friends as Fresh Food Gifts in baskets which would be accompanied by fresh baked breads to enjoy them on. It’s a concept that you can send a gift that is FRESH, of high quality and it can be enjoyed immediately. Who doesn’t love good food! Eventually, those friends started asking if they could purchase a basket for someone else. With that I’ve created a Fresh Food Gift end of Tastings which can be purchased on-line. With a click of the mouse we can ensure delivery of a Fresh Food Gift to anyone, locally that is.
“Our Store location will offer our products for sale as well as some prepared food made with our fresh products available for takeout. Customers may also come in and customize their own gifts on artisan platters and baskets which we will have on display. As things started coming together I was introduced to a genius pastry chef (Mary) who is now in charge of the sweet end of Tastings. We’ve added breakfast baskets available as Fresh Food Gifts including our own line of flavored butters which accompany the breakfast baskets. She also does cakes, hand-rolled truffles and our Signature petite cupcakes. Oh and we also do some killer catering.”
It doesn’t stop there either. The duo is getting ready to unleash items like gourmet pizzas, hazelnut pesto, homemade crackers and grill sauce… they roast the nuts, grind the garlic and squeeze the lemons. Then they wrap it up in custom earth-friendly containers made from corn and presto! Actually, you can click here to get a primo description as to just how good this line gets. Most of the in-house items will be produced by local gourmands – Maria is planning on setting up Tastings as a place where grassroots and pro chefs can introduce State (and Maria) approved goodies to interested customers. Do you think you know how to make and package a hotsauce or pasta line? Well then, get your act together and stop on in to see the rest of the local offerings. Maria will also be teaming up with many food purveyors who have already made a name for themselves at the regional farmers’ markets.
As far as the building goes, come spring look for new flower window boxes and attractive signage to grace the premise. There’s even a corner parcel of land that Maria would like to dedicate to flowers and a seating area. That would really look nice on that corner. The interior of the place looks great too. Maria installed wood-looking floors, new counters, vibrant and whimsical painted walls, new kitchen appliances, and display racks. Customers will be able to grab a basket or a platter and add their favorite dips, crackers… you name it. Then wrap it up, add a gift card and you’re on your way. Just imagine a grocery circuit that takes shoppers from Guercio’s to
Wegmans to Tastings… it’s a quick loop that will take care of so many
different shopping needs.
Stop in or order Maria’s creations on-line and have them delivered to your door. Tastings will be opening at 1595 Elmwood Avenue one week from today. The production facility will be in full swing servicing in-house customers, farmers’ market demand and on-line foodies. Check out the website to get the complete lowdown and the line-up of some of the current offerings.
Tastings | 1595 Elmwood Avenue | (716) 440-8682