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Jun 28, 2010
11:47 AM

Nickel City Chef worth every penny!

Nickel City Chef worth every penny!

Courtesy of Feed Your Soul

Winner Chef Krista Van Wagner's chicken schnitzel with bone marrow, sweet pea and morel mushroom cream sauce.

The 2nd season of Nickel City Chef (sponsored by, among others, Buffalo Spree) went out on a hot note on June 26. Inside Artisan Kitchens and Baths [], in front of a packed and steamy house, Chef Krista Van Wagner of Curly’s [] in Lackawanna prevailed over a hard-cookin’ Chef Marco Sciortino of Marco’s Delis [].

The “secret ingredient,” chicken, provided by Good Grass Farm [], proved to be a fecund item for each chef to feature in his or her three dishes. While I was not lucky enough to be one of the judges/tasters (hint, hint, Christa G.S., I’m avaaaaaiiiiilllllable....), I could tell just by looking that there was some serious cooking going on.

Bert Gambini, who mans the mike throughout the two-hour affair, was his usual benevolent and humorous self, ribbing the audience, the chefs, his co-host Mike Andrzejewski and anyone else within reach.

Being in possession of a ticket to the event on that humid Sunday was an honored position, as it was the ender of an exciting sophomore season. We trundled there with excitement, and left still excited but also sweaty and steeped in the scent of earthy jerk seasoning, kitchen smoke, etc. Fans blew at full force, and the crowd, including us, stuck it out like the true food-groupies we are.

Why else would I stay but to see Van Wagner put together a chicken (thigh) schnitzel with morel mushroom and marrow accents? The layering alone would make my taste buds weep. Her starter dish, the jerk chicken with a beurre noir based on her own branded jerk sauce, looked amazing, and the foot that accompanied it was, to my eye, quite the pleasing artistic note.

Steve and Ellen Gedra of Bistro Europa provided the food we could eat, and it was delicious. Watermelon gazpacho was spicy and just fruity enough; tenderly cooked and deeply spiced chicken sliders were worth waiting for—they were seared on a very hip evo brand cooktop [] that is a grill and a giant burner at the same time; the mini golubki (pork-stuffed cabbage) were flavorful, tender and somehow, in the heat and the moist atmosphere, refreshing.

Cheers to Christa Glennie Seychew, and her Feed Your Soul production company [], for fostering and growing this awareness in Buffalo; for encouraging all of us to eat, think and be merry.

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