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Another sign of things getting back to normal, 2022 Taste of Buffalo features more restaurants than last year

Cold ice cream on a hot Taste of Buffalo day
Mike Desmond
Cold ice cream is served on a hot Taste of Buffalo July 10, 2022.

The Taste was tasty for tens of thousands of people over the weekend, as the Taste of Buffalo returned to a more normal, crowded summer event after the Pandemic.

Last year, there were only 25 restaurants in the rain, while there were 40 this year. Apparently, 11 others didn’t survive the COVID-19 pandemic.

2023 Chair Elizabeth Mamot said it was good to be back.

"It's so refreshing. Having this weather has been incredible," she said. "But, having the community out and enjoying and feeling a sense of normalcy again has been wonderful.”

Molly Stock was on the other side, a customer pushing around a stroller with a dozing four-year-old.

“It seems a little bit smaller than normal but it's been nice and weather was good for today and I'm just happy that things are returning to normal," she said.

For Niagara Falls restaurateur Shan Ahad, Taste was his first chance to bring his halal food truck Mother Cluckers to the event and show off what he can do.

“Selling the most of mofongo and mofongo is green banana, mashed green banana and we make it into a cup and you can put any type of meat in there like pork or you can do like seafood," Ahad said. "We've got shrimp, chicken.”

Christopher Perez’s Mi Isla was from much closer, on Buffalo’s West Side, with the Taste showing what his kitchen can do.

“It's unique as a birds eye chili from South Africa, Portugal," he said. "At the base of our sauces, we put a lot of onions, garlic, citrus and we cook it up or down.”

Of course, there were the old reliables of the summer outdoor eating events, Chiavetta’s Barbeque. Jordan Staph said it’s a mix of the old and the new.

“We do our normal Chiavetta's chicken. We do our tomato pepper and onion salad that you get at the Erie County Fair and then we thrown in a pulled pork street taco that we started at the fair about five years ago. And, these are like our staples here," Staph said. "So, it's kind of like a mini-fair.”

Mamot said Taste has been trying very hard in recent years to have a diverse crowd of food purveyors for what has become a diverse crowd.

“We have a Restaurant Committee that will meet with all of our applicants and then they'll help describe what our event is about and all of the work that it does entail and then we take that back and if the restaurant is still interested in participating, we will then vote them in through a process and we really do just love the diverse selection," Mamot said.

Once her official duties were over, Mamot said she wanted to try out a new item on the Taste menu, peanut butter and jelly chicken wings.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.