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Nickel City Pastry Chef Video & Recap: Gedra vs. Piorkowsi

Over the weekend, the first Nickel City Pastry Chef competition was held, pitting two top pastry chefs against one another in a battle similar to the ongoing and popular Nickel City Chef series.

After receive more than a dozen applications, two competitors were chosen, based as much on their very different philosophies as on their training and experience. Chef Ellen Gedra of Bistro Europa is a self-taught pastry chef who hails from Rochester, NY but has worked in restaurants in Colorado and Boston. Comfort classics, rustic presentation, and the use of salt factor heavily into her pastry style. Her competitor, Chef Paul Piorkowski, is classically trained and looks to historically-significant pastry chefs for inspiration. He is currently in charge of the pastry menu at Williamsville's lovely Black & Blue Steak & Crab, as well as neighboring Jojo Bistro.

Both competitors, with the assistance of their sous chefs, were tasked with preparing three dishes in an hour featuring the secret ingredient. As with Nickel City Chef events, the secret ingredient always comes from a local farm or artisan foodmaker. In this case, the secret ingredient was provided by Five Points Bakery, a small artisan bakery which mills its own flour and focuses on using wholesome, local ingredients. In this instance, their remarkable housemade light and dark brown sugar was featured. Made using raw organic sugar and organic blackstrap molasses, this sugar has remarkable flavor and a great texture.

The competition was tough, with both chefs setting out to accomplish a lot in 60 minutes. Chef Paul Piorkowski won the coin toss, and chose that Chef Gedra should serve her dishes first.

On Chef Paul Piorkowsi's side of the kitchen we saw a very technique driven menu, but the judges commented on at least one of the dishes being somewhat "busy" and perhaps displaying a lack of restraint. Several audience members commented that Chef Gedra's menu was "refined", while other saw it as too simple, with her second course being "too playful". Judges seemed impressed with her use of salt and acid to really showcase the flavors and textures of each dish. Below you can watch the video, see each of the dishes offered by both chefs, and view the judges opinions, which are reflected in the overall score.

In the end, Chef Ellen Gedra won, but congratulations are in order for both chefs. Thanks go to the team of judges, Barbara Accogli of Toronto's Cake Star, Carolyn Panzica, founder of Butterwood Desserts and owner of The Chocolate Bar, Joanna Pasceri of WKBW, and Chef Paul Jenkins of Tempo.

Chef Ellen Gedra of Bistro Europa's Menu


 Waffle with Brown Sugar Bacon Ice Cream and Balaton Cherries


 Carnival Plate: Caramel Corn, Churro con Chocolate, Caramel Lady Apples


 Butterscotch Pudding with Madeline Cookie


Chef Paul Piorkowski of Black & Blue Steak & Crab's Menu


Brown Sugar Roasted Strawberry and Rhubarb with Amaretto Gelato, Brown Sugar Cake and Salted Butterscotch Caramel



 Bananas Foster on Grilled Caramelized Pineapple with Chocolate Covered Bacon Spirals


Bourbon Butterscotch and Espresso Pudding with Whipped Cream, Brown Sugar Sweet Potato Donuts filled with Peanut Butter Mousse


The Final Score


Buffalo Spree is a proud sponsor of Nickel City Pastry Chef.

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