Wings spread! Buffalo food fest comes to Brooklyn

Brooklyn Paper
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Buffalo fans, won’t you come out tonight?

Brooklynites can get a belly-full of the cuisine and culture of New York’s second largest city at the “Buffalo City Fair,” at the Bell House on March 24. The six-hour wild wing-ding distills a weekend trip to the city nearest Niagra Falls into a delicious afternoon, for those who are home-sick for Buffalo, or those who want to explore a new town, said the event’s director.

“This is a good snapshot of that weekend,” said Varghese Chacko, who lives in Park Slope. “Our plan is to give both people who live in New York or who are from Buffalo a sense of that food and culture.”

First on the menu is Buffalo’s most famous food — buffalo wings! The saucy, spicy chicken wings are a familiar sight to down-state New Yorkers, but some of the other dishes may be new, including “garbage plates” — a multi-option tray often including a cheeseburger, french fries, pasta salad, beans, and coleslaw — “beef on weck” — a roast beef on a roll, and loganberry drinks — a soda made with a hybrid raspberry and blackberry flavors, which the Fair will serve spiked with booze.

Heading up the production of the Buffalonian buffet is chef John Marren, who owns the restaurant Buffalo’s Famous in Kensington. The 10-year transplant from that city says that he is no purist — his hometown’s food can be served anywhere, as long as the chef has a strong appreciation for its origin.

“It doesn’t need to be made in Buffalo, but it needs to be made in the same tradition as Buffalo,” said Marren. “Some purists won’t look at a barbecue pizza as pizza, but I don’t look at it that hardcore. I feel you just have to have a healthy respect for how it’s made, and give a s---.”

Marren says he is thrilled at being able to relive some nostalgia and give people the experience of eating the food he grew up with.

“I’m most excited to have a lot of authenticity under one roof — that’s what we’re aiming for and we’re trying to make sure it’s authentic,” he said. “In the last decade, everyone agreed that Buffalo has a top 10 food culture — if you’re a foodie this is an opportunity to check out a reputable food culture."

Several bands and comedians from Buffalo will perform during the festival, and visitors can play “kan jam,” a beloved Buffalo frisbee game.

Chacko’s organization, City Farm, has previously celebrated Colorado food, and next plans to highlight dishes from Detroit, Michigan. But for this session, he decided to go closer to home, and to help Brooklynites appreciate the food culture on the far side of the state.

“I think it’s just a great way to get a sense of the food and entertainment and really, the people of Buffalo,” said Chacko. “Buffalo has passionate residents, and the mixture of food and comedy and entertainment and attendees — it’s going to bring a great mix of Buffalo flavor to new people.”

“Buffalo City Fair” at the Bell House [149 Seventh St. between Second and Third avenues in Gowanus, (718) 643–6510,]. March 24; 1–7 pm. $10.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at
Updated 5:47 pm, July 9, 2018
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