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Nickel City Chef 2012 Video: XVII: Van Wagner vs. Mercado in Battle: Greens

Nickel City Chef has just concluded its fourth season and completed its 20th show. Traditionally the project has simply taped and edited the competitions for immediate release, but this year filmmaker Nathan Peracciny developed a comprehensive 2-part video of each show. The first part will venture onto the farm where the secret ingredient is grown, and into the restaurant kitchens of the two competing chefs. The second part of the video will document the cooking competition. We are especially excited to give our web audience a better sense of the skill and effort that our featured farms utilize to produce such excellent ingredients, as well as a peek at the chefs in their own environments, verbalizing their thoughts about food and the competition.

Below you will find both videos recapping the first show of 2012, which featured fresh greens from the greenhouse operated by Massachusetts Avenue Project on Buffalo's west side. MAP's watercress, mache, and baby spinach were a pleasure to work with; the greens came to our chefs within hours of being harvested. The competition took place during the chilly month of February, but the scent of these just-picked, lush greens filled our kitchens.

Nickel City Chef Krista Van Wagner of Curly's took on Challenger Frank Mercado of M&T's Executive Dining Room in Battle: Greens. Both chefs executed beautiful and technically adept food, making excellent use of the fragrant and nutritious greens provided by MAP. The judges of the day included John Bourdage, a food and beverage expert, Chef Maryann Giordano of Creekview, a winner from Nickel City Chef's third season, and Nelson Starr, one of Buffalo's best known foodies.

Nickel City Chef is a Feed Your Soul production.


Those starring in this episode include:

The Chefs

Nickel City Chef Krista Van Wagner

Chef Owner, Curly’s Grill & Banquet Center—Buffalo, NY

Assisted by Chef Shea Zappia
Nickel City Chef Krista Van Wagner is a CIA graduate who has trained and cooked around the world. In 1990, she and her husband Kirk returned to Buffalo and refurbished her family’s restaurant, Curly’s. One of Buffalo’s most reputable fine dining establishments, it has been in business for 75 years. Krista’s passion for Caribbean food and classical French training has led to expansion, and even a line of sauces/condiments for use in the wholesale/retail sector. The Van Wagners reside in WNY with their 3 children.

Chef Frank Mercado
Executive Chef, M& T Executive Dining Room—Buffalo, NY

Assisted by Chef Christian Karnath
A graduate of the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute, Frank Mercado’s lengthy resume includes some of Buffalo’s best restaurants—Oliver’s, Tsunami, and Siena among them. As Executive Chef for M&T Bank’s private Executive Dining Room, every day he creates a new menu featuring the world's freshest ingredients. When not running the scratch kitchen for one of Buffalo’s most prestigious banks, he works shifts at both Torches and Sea Bar in order to keep his skills honed and his experiences varied.


The Judges

John Bourdage

Consultant—Buffalo, NY

John Bourdage, of Bourdage Consulting, provides consultation on the improvement of interpersonal relationships through a renewed understanding of service and social skills. As a graduate of Ivor Spencer School for Butler Administration, Bourdage received training in manners, etiquette, food and wines, entertaining, and the fine arts.

Mary Ann Giordano

Executive Chef and Season Three Winner, Creekview—Buffalo, NY

Mary Ann Giordano describes her cuisine as “American fusion,” drawing from Mediterranean, Italian, European, and Asian influences. With more than 25 years of experience in the restaurant industry, she has been the Executive Chef at Williamsville's Creekview Restaurant since 1997. As a chef instructor at Auburn Watson Culinary School, Giordanno shares the passion for cooking she learned from a childhood she describes as being “surrounded by food and life in the kitchen.”

Nelson Starr

Musician and Host, Buffalo. For Real TV—Buffalo, NY

Buffalo Music Hall of Fame inductee Nelson Starr is best known as one of Buffalo’s most influential musicians. Recently, Nelson has turned his keen acumen toward Buffalo’s food scene, bringing celebrity chef and Travel Channel star Anthony Bourdain to Buffalo and hosting Buffalo. For Real TV. Starr has dedicated himself to exploring and revealing WNY’s most treasured cultural gems, hidden hangouts, and beloved pastimes, all with a dose of self-deprecating humor and naive charm.

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