Something New is Cooking at the Fair: Erie County Fair Cooks!

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It’s no surprise, in a region that loves to eat, that the number one reason why people attend the annual Erie County Fair is food. During the 12-days of the Fair, the Fairgrounds plays host to over 500 food items available at over 125 food stands.  With this in mind, organizers will debut a culinary arts center called the “Erie County Fair Cooks! Kitchen & Shoppe”

“The primary mission of the “Erie County Fair Cooks Kitchen & Shoppe” is to highlight regionally sourced and grown products, promote easy to cook at home meal options and to expose Fairgoers to Western New York’s dynamic culinary scene,” explained Erie County Fair CEO & Manager Dennis Lang.

“Erie County Fair Cooks! Kitchen & Shoppe” will be located inside the lower level of the Fair’s Security Building on the Avenue of Flags in a retail area formally known as “The Mall” and will feature a demonstration kitchen as well as vendors specializing in culinary related products and services.

“The culinary center should be easy to find on the Fairgrounds, just look for the fork in the road!” said Fair Marketing Manager Marty Biniasz in reference to a 15-feet high steel sculpture representing a fork and knife placed near the building’s entrance. "You would need to be 180ft tall with a huge appetite to handle these giant-sized utensils!”

Each day of the Fair, “Erie County Fair Cooks! Kitchen & Shoppe” will showcase live cooking demonstrations conducted by area chefs, cooking schools, Fair concessionaires and local businesses.

A highlight of the schedule will be the first Western New York appearance by celebrity chef Shaun O’Neale from Las Vegas. O’Neale is the 2016 winner of FOX Network’s MasterChef Competition and will be appearing on the culinary stage the evenings of August 12th & 13th. O’Neale will present his take on modern American cuisine with international influences that appear in his best-selling cooking book, “My Modern American Table: Recipes for Inspired Home Cooks.” With O’Neale as guide, Fairgoers will experience first-hand how he won over the judges and earned the title of MasterChef.

With his signature “'Ooh! It's so good!” slogan, Howard Rosenthal of Mr. Food’s Test Kitchen will appear during Ch. 7 Day at the Fair on August 15th. For over 30 years, Mr. Food segments have aired daily on WKBW-TV featuring recipes that are “doable for anyone in the kitchen.” Rosenthal, a Syracuse native, became the face of the Mr. Food Test Kitchen after the passing of longtime host Art Ginsburg in 2012. Howard will share his recipes and sign autographs during his four performances.  "The thing is we don't take it too seriously, but we are passionate and the creative work is great," said Rosenthal. "In a world where everyone is so in to high-end food, we're all about what families are putting on the table after work or school."

On August 9th, WGRZ Ch. 2 Day at the Fair, station personalities Pete Gallivan and Chef Steven Binks will appear sharing their favorite recipes. WIVB-TV’s Katie Alexander will tell us “What We’re Doing Wrong in the Kitchen” on Ch. 4 Day on August 10th. 

Local chefs will include Krista Van Wagner of Prima Oliva, Brad Rowell of the Hamburg Grange Kitchen, Scott Leggett from US Foods, Andrew Murtha of Carte Blanche & Juicy Burger Bar of Hamburg. Culinary executives from Delaware North include Brian Sterner, Brian Waters, Dan Thorington, and Matthew Nelson.

Fair concessionaries Sal Butera of Salvatore’s Pizza Trailer and Linda Lund of Babcia’s Pierogis will share recipes straight off the Fair’s midway that Fairgoers can prepare at home. 

Carrie Meyer and Shelby Braun from the Independent Health Foundation will serve up a series of healthy eating themed demonstrations that will include “Learn To Cook With Kale,”  “Simple Swaps- Healthier Ingredient Alternatives,” and “Making The Most of Your Chicken Roast.”

The Niagara Falls Culinary Institute will host 12 demonstrations featuring their facility members during the course of the Fair. The final weekend of the Fair, August 19th & 20th, will spotlight chefs from the famous Tops Friendly Markets Cooking School.

In total, 60 demonstrations have been scheduled during the course of the Fair. Demonstrations are free with paid admission to the Fair.  Support for the project has been received by the Independent Health Foundation, KR Communications, DirecTV, Cintas, Tops Friendly Markets and the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute.  

About the Erie County Fair

The Erie County Agricultural Society is a private not-for-profit membership organization. Established in 1819, the Society is the oldest civic organization in Western New York. The mission of the Erie County Agricultural Society (ECAS), sponsors of the Erie County Fair, is to preserve and enhance, by educational endeavors, the agricultural and historical legacy of New York State. The Fair strives to fulfill appropriate aspects of the agricultural, educational, entertainment and recreational needs of Western New York. The 2016 Erie County Fair will be held August 10th – 21st (www.ECFair.org)

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