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Chef opening COPPA handcrafted meat emporium, invites backers

Want to kick in some bread to help Chef Bruce Wieszala make more meat?

Wieszala, one of the most talented chefs working in Western New York, can usually be found in the kitchen at Carmelo’s, in Lewiston. On his own time, he’s pursued his love of Italian charcuterie – cured meat. Operating as COPPA Artisan Cured Meats, he’s started turning out handmade prosciutto, sopressatta, finocchio and a dozen other types. In the fall, Wieszala hopes to open a store for his meats, along with a few sandwiches and other accompaniments, at 425 Elmwood Ave. Some of his products are already for sale next door at Nickel City Cheese & Mercantile.

In the meantime, Wieszala is asking for $25,000 in donations to help buy equipment to expand production. “To keep up with the demand and larger volume, I’m definitely going to need a bigger curing room, a larger grinder, a larger stuffer,” he said.

He’s using the Kickstarter online service, which tracks donations from people interested in funding projects. There’s incentive gifts, like a COPPA meat sampler for a $100 donation. If the goal isn’t reached by the deadline, donors get their money back.

Wieszala’s fine dining career started in Atlanta, where he cooked in top kitchens. He’s the only Western New York chef who has actually competed on the Food Network’s “Iron Chef America,” assisting challenging Atlanta chef Linton Hopkins in 2007’s Battle Sablefish.

To donate, point your web browser to and follow the instructions. As of Aug. 2, there were about $4,700 in commitments, quite a ways away from the goal with eight days left.

Wieszala expects to open his store either way, so at least the cured meat aficionados of Western New York have that to look forward to.

From Burma to Black Rock: the story behind Buffalo's first Burmese restaurant

Like many Buffalonians, I first met Kevin Lin as the sushi guy at the Amherst Street Wegmans. He was donating his sushi-making skills to Buffalo Meets Burma, a fundraiser for the International Institute of Buffalo.

At the time, I was surprised to learn of the breadth of the Burmese immigration to Buffalo. I got a chance to talk to Kevin and his wife Stephanie a year later, after they opened their grocery-restaurant at 1989 Niagara St. I thrilled to their cuisine in a Cheap Eats review, despite the pedestrian setting. Their first menu hid Burmese dishes under the "Vietnamese" heading, because they didn't know how the food they loved would play in Buffalo.

Turns out Buffalo digs Burmese. The Lins decided to tear out the grocery and aim to become a Burmese restaurant with Thai dishes too.

When the Lins explained how they got there, I figured it was a tale worth telling. Today's Taste cover story, following their recent reopening as Sun Restaurant Buffalo, follows their journey from Dawei to Western New York.

The Burmese dish selection, based on Stephanie's recipes, has expanded significantly. For anyone who wants to try a little Burmese culture firsthand, the Lins have provided a delicious opportunity.

Live chat with Buffalo News Food Editor Andrew Galarneau at noon

It's been too long since my last live chat, so join us at noon to talk about what's new and delicious in the Buffalo food-o-sphere.

Today's News Taste section features the Burma-to-Buffalo story of Kevin and Stephanie Lin of Sun Restaurant Buffalo. Have you tried Burmese yet?


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