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2020 Taste of Buffalo at Home, a virtual food festival, set for July 11 and 12

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Wed, Jun 24th 2020 02:30 pm

Together with Tops Friendly Markets, event replaces traditional festival to provide support for local restaurants, food trucks & wineries, plus FeedMore WNY, along with some online food fun

Taste of Buffalo presented by Tops Friendly Markets on Wednesday announced more details for “Taste of Buffalo at Home,” a virtual food festival scheduled for July 11-12, in lieu of the traditional in-person event. “Taste of Buffalo at Home” will provide support for local restaurants while embodying the spirit of the live festival with cooking demonstrations, live music, and other food-related fun – all hosted online.

At the heart of “Taste of Buffalo at Home” is the “Taste Takeout” initiative. Tops and more than half of the restaurants, food trucks and wineries that were slated to participate in the original event will instead prepare special food offerings available for takeout or at the store or restaurant (where available) on July 11-12, and continuing the following week while supplies last. Several restaurants will also offer a Labatt Blue or Coca-Cola special as part of their “Taste Takeout” meal the weekend of the “at Home” festival.

"COVID-19 has changed our world, but our passion for the things that make Western New York such a special place remains," said Erin Collins, 2020 Taste of Buffalo chair. "To keep the Taste of Buffalo tradition alive and provide much-needed support for our local restaurant community, we had to reimagine the Taste of Buffalo format. The restaurants remain at the heart of the event, in addition to bringing a fun, community-centric atmosphere into people’s homes.”

An interactive virtual festival guide, available now at tasteofbuffalo.com, features a full menu of the “Taste Takeout” offerings from participating restaurants, food trucks, wineries, and Tops, along with links to make it easier to order. To further support local restaurants, gift cards from some of the participating restaurants and wineries will also be sold at a discount throughout the weekend.

The Taste of Buffalo team said it is grateful to have the continued support of Tops for this year’s virtual event.

“At Tops, we believe in giving back to the communities we serve,” said John Persons, president and chief operating officer for Tops. “We are proud to continue to serve as presenting sponsor of the Taste of Buffalo for the 17th year in a row. Even though this year’s event is being done virtually, we are confident that Western New Yorkers will rally to help support our area businesses and FeedMore WNY.”

Giving back to the community has always been a significant part of the Taste of Buffalo’s mission. Throughout the event weekend, virtual food tickets will be sold online to benefit FeedMore WNY and support the organization’s ongoing hunger relief efforts.

Keeping the focus on food, the Taste of Buffalo is recreating a live festival favorite with the “Virtual Culinary Stage.” Chef Darian Bryan and other Buffalo area chefs will be live on the venue’s Facebook and Instagram pages cooking and grilling summer dishes. Demos will take place June 28, July 1, and throughout the Taste of Buffalo weekend. Guests will have the chance to sign up on the VIP list and get “ingredient boxes” that will include everything needed to cook along with Bryan.

Other segments include Buffalo’s own Singing Cops making Moe’s famous shrimp and grits; an arugula and grilled sweet potato salad presented by Independent Health Foundation’s Healthy Options; a delicious and easy Buffalo pork ribs dish from NY Pork Producers; and cooking lessons with kids.

A few of the other fun virtual experiences Taste of Buffalo fans can look forward to include:

•The Virtual ‘Wheel of Prizes’: Spin the virtual Taste of Buffalo “Wheel of Prizes” for free to win restaurant gift cards, Tops gift cards and boxes filled with a variety of Tops brand product samples and other goodies. Guests can also make a donation to FeedMore WNY.

•The Virtual Selfie Booth: Picture yourself at the Taste of Buffalo. Take a free selfie, add stickers and the hashtag #TasteofBuffaloatHome, and share it with friends.

•Live Music presented by Tops: A variety of local musicians and full bands will play live shows throughout the festival weekend.

•Coca-Cola Virtual DJ Dance Party: A highlight of the live festival, this year guests can join the party on Zoom compliments of Coca-Cola. Not a dancer? Watch the fun live on the TOB Facebook page.

•Taste of Fun KidZone: Explore and More Children’s Museum and Independent Health Foundation will provide fun, interactive activities for kids and families. Independent Health Foundation will give away kits to take part in the “Make a Healthy Trail Mix” activity, and WNY Book Arts will host a DIY virtual origami workshop. Programming will take place throughout the festival weekend.

•Virtual Happy Hour: Another highlight of the live festival, the Taste of Buffalo recreates the fun with a virtual hangout and celebration of beer from 3-4 p.m. July 11. Guests can invite their friends, grab their favorite beer and enjoy a happy hour, hosted by some of Buffalo’s best brewers, beer experts and beer lovers (for those ages 21 and up).

•The complete schedule of experiences, including times for culinary demonstrations, live music and more, is available now at tasteofbuffalo.com.

"Even though we won't be physically gathering in Niagara Square for this year's Taste of Buffalo, much creativity and planning have gone into the virtual format to make sure the tradition is still delicious, entertaining, fun and safe,” City of Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown said. “The annual tradition of showcasing the many diverse restaurants and beverage makers from across the City of Buffalo and the region will continue through takeout, sample boxes and food truck options, and there will be several interactive options to bring festivalgoers of all ages together in the virtual world.”

About Taste of Buffalo Presented by Tops

The Taste of Buffalo presented by Tops is the nation's largest two-day food festival. The TOB is a not-for-profit organization with more than 1,000 volunteers helping to put on the annual event. Approximately $538,000 has been raised at the festival for local charities, including five $1,000 scholarships awarded annually to local high school seniors pursuing a culinary or hospitality-related degree. For more information, visit tasteofbuffalo.com, or @tasteofbuffalo on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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