Bryan and Young pose with plate of food in the demo kitchen

Alumni Connect through Friendship, Food with Virtual Cooking Series


For Darian Bryan, B.S. ’17, making meals for others (with a smile) has always been a way of life.

Bryan, who studied hospitality administration at Buffalo State College, grew up working in his mother’s cookshop in Jamaica and “loved to see how food made people happy.”

“From there, I knew I wanted to be a chef,” said Bryan, who is the executive chef of the Plating Society—a pop-up catering and dining company that he started with his wife, Jessica (Micha) Bryan, B.A. ’14, M.S. ’16. “I came to America and chose Buffalo to start my journey.”

Darian Bryan, who has also worked as a private chef to several Buffalo Bills players—including Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, and Vontae Davis—has grown a large Instagram following for his culinary content.

He is one of the featured chefs on the Taste of Buffalo’s virtual culinary stage, which premieres Saturday, June 26, with episodes airing on July 3 and through the Taste of Buffalo weekend July 10 and 11, on both the festival’s Facebook page and Bryan’s Instagram.

Bryan and Young in the demo kitchen, with computer monitor in front displaying the same image of them

Bryan and Young in the demonstration kitchen.

“I constantly strive to see those smiles and hear those ‘Wows!’” said Bryan, who will be joined in the culinary demonstration by Colleen Young, B.A. ’15. “I love being able to connect with people on a daily basis, whether it’s in their kitchens or them watching me cook or with my family on their phones.”

Young, who met Jessica Bryan through her coursework at Buffalo State, said the Bryans are like family. 

“We have all stayed friends since Buffalo State,” said Young, who is an executive assistant at CleanCapital and a virtual events moderator for Bison Entertainment Group. “I’ve been able to see Darian and Jessica grow their family and their business from the ground up, and I am happy to be along for the ride.”

Young, who aspires to be a talk show host, said her freelance work in virtual events helped her hone her hosting skills and maintain personal connections during the pandemic. Bryan and Young discovered they worked well together professionally after a successful virtual cooking event to support the Explore & More Children’s Museum in Buffalo.

“Buffalo State was a wonderful experience. It was not easy working full time and going to school full time, but my professors were amazing and supportive.”

- Darian Bryan, ’17

“It feels really natural and fun to work with Darian,” she said. “He is such a people person. And so it’s not hard for me as a host to showcase his personality,” she said.

Bryan and Young will also host an in-person meet-and-greet at noon on Sunday, July 11, at the Taste of Buffalo Tops tent as part of its “Smile for Summer” campaign. They both credit Buffalo State for allowing them to gain real-world experience as undergrads that has been invaluable for their rising careers.

“Buffalo State was a wonderful experience,” said Bryan, who worked at Hutch’s restaurant and Buffalo State’s Campus House as a student. “It was not easy working full time and going to school full time, but my professors were amazing and supportive.”

Young, who studied journalism, said off-campus internships, writing for the Record, and hosting campus gigs helped her gain tangible experience before graduation.

“I credit Buffalo State for influencing my entire career. I loved how so many of my journalism professors also worked in the field.”

- Colleen Young, ’15

“Buffalo State became my second home,” said Young, who hosted two Runway fashion shows, fraternity and alumni events, and a pep rally for Homecoming and Family Weekend. “As a commuter student, I made an effort to get as involved on campus and meet as many people as possible. Every opportunity I had on campus led to another.

“I credit Buffalo State for influencing my entire career,” she said. “I loved how so many of my journalism professors also worked in the field. Even on my hardest days, I will never forget all the real-world and industry advice they have given me.”

The culinary demonstrations—sponsored by Buffalo Spree, Tops Markets, the Independent Health Foundation, the NY Pork Producers Cooperative, Newman’s Own, and Artisan Kitchen and Baths—will feature several Western New York chefs. Taste of Buffalo, presented by Tops, is free to attend and will be held on Delaware Avenue from Huron into Niagara Square.