By Deb Everts
Connoisseurs of fine cuisine and people who just love to eat are expected to flock to Ellicottville this weekend for the 33rd annual Taste of Ellicottville.
The event takes place from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday on Washington and Monroe streets, where hungry visitors can sample delectable food items offered by local restaurants and other businesses.
The Ellicottville Chamber of Commerce recently announced more than 20 of Ellicottville’s finest dining establishments will participate in the event, from in downtown Ellicottville to the surrounding area.
“One thing not too many people know is we have 23 participants, possibly 24, this year that are all local establishments. They are not coming in from outside the area,” said Barb Pump, membership and events manager at the Ellicottville Chamber of Commerce. “New participants include Cupcaked, Steelbound, The Public House and Tops Markets.”
According to Pump, both ends of Monroe Street from Hughey Alley to Martha Street, will be closed off and there will be tents set up “cafe-style” on both sides on the streets, rain or shine.
On Washington Street, there will be more places setup in front of the restaurants. Tables will be out among the tents to provide a place for families of all ages and sizes to take a few minutes and enjoy the outdoors while they enjoy their samples.
Attendance is free, but sample food items will carry a $1 to $5 charge payable through tickets that can be purchased at ticket booths located on Monroe Street. Maps and menus will also be available on a flyer at the ticket booths.
Pump said there will be cooking demonstrations and the “Chopped Competition” will be back again this year. The competition is much like the reality-based cooking television game show series where judges sample each restaurant’s signature dish in front of a live audience.
Judging of the competition takes place from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday with celebrity judges, 97 Rock’s DJ Jickster (Buffalo’s Classic Rock Radio Station, iHeartRadio), “Chicken Wing King” Drew Cerza (founder and organizer of the National Buffalo Wing Festival) and his wife, Jodi, of Clarence, and Buffalo Sabres alumnus Danny Gare.
Garrett Shea will be performing in the streets during the event from noon to 1 p.m. and 3 to 4 p.m.
Watson’s Chocolates is one of the longest participating businesses in the Taste of Ellicottville. Manager Barbara Toth said she’s certain Watson’s started with the Taste from the beginning 33 years ago because they opened the Ellicottville store in 1985.
Toth said Watson’s will have their famous rice pudding out for the event, which is something they offer only for the Taste and the Fall Festival. Other treats will include baklava and their special sponge candy, pretzels and turtles.
“We’re hoping for a nice day, but not too hot for the chocolate to melt,” she quipped.
Toth said the annual Taste event has promoted their business over the years. People who might not normally come inside the store and are walking the streets during the event stop by because they have a display of treats outside in front of the store.
“They can just stop right on the sidewalk out front and purchase a sampling of several of our goodies,” she said. “It’s a very convenient way for people to try what we have.”
Cupcaked Bakery and Event Planning is one of the newer businesses taking part for the first time this year. Owner Annie Coe, who opened her business last September, said her first year in business has been great and very busy.
She said the community and locals have been very supportive, which was particularly nice during the “mud season,” after the ski season ended and the tourist season died down.
Cupcaked will have a booth right in front of their store, Coe said, where they’ll have a “photo-op station” set up complete with an antique loveseat and props. She said it’ll be interactive and cute in pink and blue.
“At the Taste, we’ll be offering a dessert bar flight, a cupcake flight and a brownie flight,” she said. “We’ll also be launching our Nutella Cookie Cups and Cake Pops.”
Sysco is the presenting sponsor; other corporate sponsors include Seneca Allegany Casino, Labatt Brewing Company, Northtown Automotive Companies and EllicottVillas.
For more information, call the chamber at 699-5046 or email Pump at email@example.com.