ADVERTISEMENT

A stretch of Delaware Avenue from Chippewa Street to Niagara Square will be turned into a food lover’s paradise this weekend from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. The 30th annual Taste of Buffalo will cast a spotlight on the region’s culinary talents.

Joseph M. Lane, a financial consultant with AXA Advisors, is the event’s volunteer chairman. Lane gave The Buffalo News’ Brian Meyer a preview of this year’s Taste. Here is a summary of the interview, part of the weekly “In Focus” series. Watch the full interview above.

Meyer: An out-of-town friend who was visiting asked a great question. Is it possible to visit the Taste of Buffalo when you’re on a rigid diet and still have a great time?

Lane: For the seventh year in a row, the Independent Health Foundation has come back to the Taste of Buffalo presented by Tops to sponsor our Healthy Choice Options. Every single restaurant has a Healthy Choice Option available. We’re the only food festival in America that requires this. And it’s great, because it shows the people of Buffalo that not only can you come to the Taste to find food that tastes good, but you can find food that’s good for you.

Meyer: You have over 50 restaurants participating. What are some of the more unusual or exotic things that we’ll be seeing?

Lane: Now you’re calling me to task, because there are over 200 food items available at the Taste.I would say go to our event guide. Our event guide is available for download at www.tasteofbuffalo.com. But for the first time this year, you can get it at Tops, at the registers. In there, you’re going to find our map, and you’ll find a list of all items. So you can kind of plot your course through the taste. ... I like to pick my menu in advance whenever I can, because there are so many choices.

Meyer: The Taste has obviously grown ... but what else has changed?

Lane: In 1984, it was set up on Main Street. The whole idea was, “Let’s bring people back downtown after the Metro Rail construction period.” Now, 30 years later, as they’re redesigning Main Street again, here we are celebrating on Delaware Avenue, in Niagara Square, all the way up to Chippewa where we have been since 2004. ... Every year we do a little something extra to tweak it, to make it run a little bit smoother. We’re always bringing in new restaurants and allowing new flavors to the taste. We have a culinary stage that we didn’t have way back when.

Meyer: Food demonstrations?

Lane: Food demonstrations, food competitions. The Smokin’ Hot Firehouse Cook Off between one Buffalo firehouse and another to see who has the best food. And we know it’s all good food. ... Two music stages with continuous music going on. But you know, it’s all about the food. Eleven new restaurants this year. One new food truck. The Black Market Food Truck is coming in. We’re excited to see them. ... We’re happy to have Lloyd Taco Truck back this year, along with R&R BBQ. We have three food trucks. Last year, when we brought them in for the first time, we actually put them in one spot. But we’re integrating them into the festival. They’ll be side by side along with other restaurants.

Meyer: Let’s talk about the Taste of Buffalo and how it interfaces with what we’re seeing in downtown Buffalo.

Lane: I think the Taste is a great opportunity to bring people in from all around ... to get them down here to say, “Wow, look what’s going on! Look at the change in the face of the City of Buffalo.” And it really is amazing to see ... the excitement that’s going on.