Taste Of Buffalo Celebrating 25 Yearsby system
Kevin Cavalieri, the 2008 Taste Chairman, gave a retrospective of previous Tastes, recognized past chairs who attended this morning's event, and gave a preview of the new aspects of this year's festival - including the all-new cooking stage, which includes an appearance by Mr. Food himself, and the specially priced "taste" sized portion in honor of this milestone year.
"This year is a special year for the Taste. It is our 25th year - and there were those who thought we would never last," Cavalieri said. "The Taste has evolved into the nation's second largest food festival. We are showcasing nearly 60 restaurants along with a growing list of local wineries, two entertainment stages and, new this year, a cooking stage that will feature top local chefs. And we expect a massive crowd, about 450,000 people who will come from Buffalo and beyond."
Frank Curci, president and CEO, Tops Markets, awarded this year's poster contest winner, Ashton Edge, a junior at the Ken-Ton Career Center, with a $500 check matched by a $500 check from the Taste of Buffalo for the school's art department.
"Tops has a long and rich history of supporting the local community and great events like the Taste of Buffalo," said President and CEO, Frank Curci. "This particular event gives us a great opportunity to focus on our favorite topic - food, and it also allows us to show our commitment to the local area and to shout that Tops is back, and is better than ever."
In addition, Curci noted that 100% of the gross proceeds from the Tops tent will be donated to the Junior Achievement of WNY. Over the past three years, Tops' Taste of Buffalo proceeds have been donated to the Food Bank of WNY, totaling more than $30,000.
Bank of America, another festival sponsor, will be holding a "Crack the Safe" contest over the two days where one lucky Taste-tester could win up to $15,000!
And for the second year, the Taste is requiring all participating restaurants to offer a healthy menu item as part of the "Healthy Options" program, sponsored by Independent Health.
"Independent Health is dedicated to improving the health and well being of the community it serves through programs like Healthy Options," said Michael W. Cropp, M.D., president and CEO, Independent Health. "One goal of the program is to show that healthy food can taste great and the Taste of Buffalo is the perfect venue to try these menu items. We were pleased with last year's success and look forward to great tasting healthy dishes everyone can enjoy at this year's festival."
The Taste has a history of giving back to the community and money raised is contributed to local charities. The Taste is a not-for-profit corporation, and over the years has given funds to numerous charities including: Compass House, Hospice, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Meals on Wheels of Western New York, National Kidney Foundation, and many more. In recent years, the Taste has raised more than $250,000 for local charities.
Restaurants who will participate for the first time in this 25th festival include Ava Cados, Avanti Pizza, Craftsman's Café, Cup of Joe's, Danny's South, Ed's Restaurant and Clam Shack, Fiamma, Fireside Inn, Forestview, Joe's Deli, La Marina, Mister Pizza, Shannon Pub, The Grille at the Dome and Zebb's.
Organizers also released the entertainment schedule during this morning's event. At the end of the festival, the Taste of Buffalo will award $5,000 in scholarships to high school seniors continuing their education in the culinary or hospitality industries. In recent years, the Taste and supporting sponsors have made more than $20,000 in scholarship allocations to area high school students.
Festival hours are Saturday, July 12 from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. and Sunday, July 13 from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. An estimated 450,000 people are expected to attend. There is no admission fee, and over 150 culinary specialties are served. Taste costs range from $.50 to $3.50. Food vouchers are on sale at tickets.com locations inside Tops beginning June 8, and credit cards are accepted at the event. For more information, visit www.tasteofbuffalo.com.