News Release
 July 1, 2021
CONTACT: Kathy Sautter
716 635 5577

WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. – Western New Yorkers are certainly excited for event season to official kick off and the first and biggest event to take center stage is Buffalo’s largest two-day food festival, The Taste of Buffalo presented by Tops Friendly Markets. Not only are we proud to return for the 18th year as sponsor of this time honored event, but to help feature amazing chef’s like Chef Darian Bryan. Tops had a chance to sit down with this energetic and enthusiastic Chef who truly is an inspiration to speak to. You can meet Chef Bryan and host Colleen Young at the Tops Tent located at the heart of Niagara Square on Sunday, July 11th from 12:00-12:30 where he’ll be available for photo opportunities. Snap a pic with Chef Bryan and post to Instagram using #SmileForSummer for the chance to win a $50 Tops gift card!

Tell us about yourself and what it was like growing up in Jamaica? I grew up in a small town by the salt river in Jamaica. I came from a big family, five sisters and I’m the only boy. Plus, I have a bunch of cousins that are mostly girls too. We all live together- 23 of us living in one home. When I was like 12, I really got into cooking. Mom had a takeout restaurant, we call there a cook shop. I helped her cook, shopped for her too. I decided at a young age I really liked this. What is one of your most vivid childhood memories? My Grandmother was always cooking for everyone. She had these big pots of food cooking all the time. Everyone in the neighborhood was eating. Everyone eats, chill, relax, always a fun time too.

Who inspired you to become a chef? My mom taught me everything I know even more than cooking. So how to cook, clean, iron. She said one day you’ll need to know all of these things. But I love cooking. Food makes people happy. And so I just kept expanding my palate. Trying new stuff. And I gave it to my family to try and when I saw the joy in my grandparents face I knew it was good. Food brings people together especially at holidays like Easter and Christmas. Those are big in Jamaica. I know what I want. I set goals. That’s a big thing for me. I write down everything I wants to accomplish. That comes from my mom. What would you have been if not a chef? I tried plumbing and the first few days I realized I just couldn’t keep my fingers clean to eat dumplings. Couldn’t have that! Ha ha! I tried electrical too and that just wasn’t for me. When my mom left Jamaica I was 15, I took over the cook shop. I was left with some of sisters (youngest/oldest) and grandparents so I took on a lot of responsibility.

What brought you to Buffalo? I came here when I was 20 for culinary school because I wanted to be a chef. I had applied to a bunch of colleges - NCCC, ECC but didn’t get in at first so I worked at Denny’s as my first job. Here is where I learned about American food. We never had bacon, ham, pancakes in Jamaica.

I finally went to ECC. It was cool to work with fruits and vegetables that we didn’t have in Jamaica but in class no one was really cooking Caribbean food so I asked my instructor can I do my menu and bring it to the table in cooking school? He agreed so I had to call my friends back in Jamaica and showed my instructor the recipes. Ever since I have taught students every semester how to do Caribbean cuisine.

I also went to Buffalo State to learn Restaurant Management, legal things to run a business, catering classes- ah-that was one of my favorite classes. Now I’m doing it in real life-it’s so cool! But ECC is where I get to cook every day.

Now I do pop up restaurants. I want to be free. I don’t want to be tied to a restaurant. I want to explore. Cook anywhere. My menu. I like that I can bring the restaurant experience to people – we did a random farm, a beach. We had to do something different because of COVID. Bringing our food into people’s home gave them the fine dining feel to their home. My wife was a huge help- she would make a beautiful table. I’ve read that your work ethic is quite remarkable and that you’ve been known to say “just hard work…every day just holding my head down when I hold my head up.” Where does that determination and work ethic come from? My mom. She never complains. She works hard each and every day. That’s all I know. I just go nonstop. If it’s events or a restaurant – I’m always cooking. You don’t have the choice either. In Jamaica we had no running water or electricity. We had to go to the river to get water. So you had to work hard every day for what you wanted. Plus, we all like nice stuff too, ha ha, so you have to work hard for that too. I want my mom to have a nice life. I get up at 2:30 or 3 o’clock every morning and start working on myself. If you want to be different you have to do something different. Focus on what you’re doing. Don’t worry about what others are doing. You represent you. The past few years you’ve flexed with ease from a live stage to a virtual stage for the Taste of Buffalo. Tell us about the two different experiences in having a live and virtual audience? The Live stage was really fun. It was loud, you know, there was so much going on. I like that people get to see you in person and taste the food. Virtual is fun and I like that you can go back and watch it again. And it allows everyone to follow step by step. It is way more fun with the virtual because I can interact with them, join them, and get their reaction as they are cooking along. Getting guys cooking in the kitchen. Guide them step by step.

What do you like most about your partnership with Tops and the products you purchase from us? Tops is awesome. You really represent. I feel home. Your store on Niagara street–it’s show time! I walked in there and thought - Where did they get this from when I saw all of my foods. Everyone is different in what they carry but Tops never lets me down. It’s always there. You guys are always showing the community support. I want to be the Tops guy. Chef Bryan inspired stuff-it could be amazing!

What is your favorite dish to create and why? Rastafan is delicious. Curry chicken. All of those ingredients I get them all at Tops. What do you love most about Buffalo? The People. They show me respect. They are real. They love and support whatever I do. They turn out for me. They respond on social media every day. It’s a beautiful day. They are so nice. I love he food scene here. Everywhere you turn there’s a restaurant. Something for everyone. So many options here.

What is your favorite traditional Buffalo dish to eat and why? Chicken wings. The first time I had them I asked – where are the sides? Where is the rice? Every time you have protein in Jamaica you have something with it. I was surprised you just ate chicken wings all by themselves. And all the different flavors you make them in. Oh and you have pizza and wings. So good. For our full interview with Chef Darian Bryan, visit

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About Tops Friendly Markets Tops Markets, LLC is headquartered in Williamsville, NY and operates 157 full-service supermarkets with five additional franchise stores and is the largest private, for-profit employer in Western New York. As a leading grocery retailer in New York, northern Pennsylvania, and western Vermont, and with the support of 15,000 associates, our core mission is to help our communities flourish. We support programs that seek to eradicate hunger and disease; promote the education of our youth; and to ensure we reduce environmental waste and energy consumption while providing our customers with sustainably sourced, high quality products. For more information, visit


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