Well I must say, judging the Taste of Buffalo was quite the experience. Joining my colleague Donnie Burtless from Buffaloeats, and other notables such as Mayor Byron Brown, Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul, and Melissa Holmes and Michael Wooten from WGRZ, my husband and I descended onto the streets to judge several restaurants. Judges are given envelopes where designated restaurants are assigned to each.
I was not aware of who I was judging until the envelope was opened. I was tasked with five restaurants and one optional (a total of six). That may not sound like a lot when there are 57 restaurants and food trucks at our disposal. But restaurants are all separated between judges, and six is a lot when you have to try EVERYTHING on the tasting menu! Needless to say I was stuffed by the time I finished.
The restaurants on my list included: Salvatore’s Italian Gardens, Eddie Ryan’s, Papaya’s, Snooty Fox, Taste of Siam, and (optional choice) Savor Restaurant at Niagara Falls Culinary Institute.
Now before I give you my list, here is the press release of overall winners:
The 2015 Taste of Buffalo presented by Tops winners are:
- Chairman’s Choice (chosen by 2014 Chairman Laura Jacobs):
Sugar-Free Brownie w/ Sugar-Free Caramel Drizzle, Chrusciki Bakery
- Children’s Choice (chosen by Aaron and Brendan Coe):
Original Lemon Ice, Anderson’s Frozen Custard
- New York Award (selected by Lieutenant Governor for New York State Kathy Hochul): Burmese Chicken Curry, Sun Restaurant
- Pat Sardina Memorial Award for Best Comfort Food:
Risotto Sticks, Osteria 166
- Lou Billitier Memorial “Rookie of the Year” Award: 716 Food & Sport
- Best Overall Item: Lemon Sorbet with Fresh Berries, Sweet Melody’s
- Best Meat Item: Jerked Chicken, Caribbean Experience
- Best Seafood Item: Carmine’s Bacon Wrapped Shrimp, Carmine’s Restaurant
- Best Dessert: Sponge Candy Caramel Cannoli, Panaro’s Restaurant
- Best Red Wine: Estate Reserve Chambourcin, Three Brothers Winery
- Best White Wine: Rosebud Gold, Niagara Landing
- Independent Health Foundation’s Healthy Options:
- First Place: Steamed Crab, Joe’s Crab Shack
- Second Place: Arugula Salad, Osteria 166
- Third Place: Savor Salad with Marinated Chicken, Savor at the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute
For my own little corner of the judging world, Savor’s Restaurant hands down took the top prize from us here at Digestion Suggestion/Food & Fiction. Their creative but simple menu options of: Coffee Cured Pork Medallion, Savor Salad w/Marinated Chicken, Salted Caramel Tart and Cool Watermelon Golden Cadillac Soup were by far the best of all our tastings. The watermelon soup was cold, refreshing, silky smooth with a slightly sweet flavor and a hint of spice. You could literally drink it down.
My honorable mention is: Papaya Restaurant. Since they are an Asian inspired restaurant there tasting menu included, Pork Spring Rolls, Korean Short Ribs, Vietnamese Chicken Salad, and Crab Rangoon. The short ribs were melt in your mouth amazing! Falling off the bone, the tender meat held subtle hints of turmeric. I was so stunned at how good their food was, I can honestly say I will go to Papaya’s to eat dinner.
Numbering into the hundreds of thousands, Buffalo weather shone bright. A subtle breeze off the lake and full sunshine provided the back drop for the perfect weekend for a food festival. It was an amazing event, and I’m proud to say that our magazine Buffalo Healthy Living was handed out in the hospitality tent.
I hope everyone had a wonderful time and we’ll see you again next year!