Top chefs in the kitchen at Seabar
The Siegel and Lin dinner
Chef Corey Siegel and Chef Mei Lin
Seabar’s Chef Mike Andrzejewski and Chef Frank Mercado assist with plating Siegel’s pork belly dish
Last week, two high-profile chefs flew into Buffalo to prepare an extraordinary meal with Mike Andrzejewski at his Ellicott Street restaurant, Seabar. A New York native and member of the USA’s Bocuse d’Or team, chef Corey Siegel is a highly awarded young cook who once worked at Park County Club in Williamsville. He and Andrzejewski were joined in the kitchen by their friend, Top Chef winner Mei Lin, who took the title while working for Michael Voltaggio.
Once dinner was over, the duo were able to answer a few questions:
How do you know each other?
Corey Siegel: A mutual friend, Bonjwing Lee, introduced us through Instagram. We were going back and forth commenting on each others photos of how awesome it would be to cook together, [to] cook some handmade pasta dishes with the most luxurious ingredients. She told me about a Top Chef event that they were cooking at in Las Vegas, I got in the car and drove four hours to help. [This] began the start of a great friendship.
Have you prepared a dinner like this together before?
CS: This was our first dinner together [and] we have been anticipating [it] for a long time. I have done many events before, but not many that allowed as much fun as this. Most events are very stressful [but] this was about an evening to just cook and do what we love without any of the other responsibilities of our daily lives.
What do you like about working with one another?
CS: Mei is a lot of fun to cook with. She is really funny and not afraid to tell me what she thinks. Plus, she’s kind of badass.
Mei Lin: It's very rare to find such a young talent like Corey. When I was 25, I was still super green. So to be where he is at his age, with such amazing accomplishments, makes me super excited to see what I can learn from him!
What made you decide to do a dinner at Seabar?
CS: Chef Mike reached out to me asking if I wanted to do a dinner at the restaurant and I was so excited about it. A chance to do something different in my hometown and bring a guest chef experience to the diners. We then decided to contribute the proceeds to the Food Bank of WNY. We thought what better way to share our craft then help others [who] may not have had a meal otherwise.
ML: Corey reached out and asked if I would like to do a collaborative charity dinner, and of course I said yes! I was already in the New York area so it only made sense, and it was for charity so what a great way to have fun together and contribute to the community of Buffalo! Any chance I can cook with such talented chefs, I'm in!
Mei, have you ever been to Buffalo before?
ML: I have not been to Buffalo before. But [I’m] always up for visiting a place I've never been! When I got in, I started to walk around the downtown area and I immediately thought, was I home? Buffalo reminds me of Detroit, super blue collar.
Corey, how has Buffalo changed since you left? What do you like most about New Buffalo?
CS: It is amazing to see how downtown has changed. So many new things! It is nice to see the restaurant scene growing and the community staying tightly knit. Nothing was more satisfying [than] to end the event by heading to my mentor, James Roberts’ restaurant, Toutant, a few buildings down for some late night snacks.
What was your combined vision in terms of the menu?
CS: Just cook some awesome food and have fun!
ML: Exactly! Just make the tastiest food is always the common goal for these dinners!
Which course was your favorite?
CS: I am still thinking about that Kimchi Fried Chicken Bun that Mei made for a passed app.
ML: (Laughing) I was actually going to make pork belly for the bao bun app, but changed it because Corey wanted to make pork belly. See how we compromise with each other ? Corey's NY strip was simply delicious.
Did you enjoy any other aspect of Buffalo during your visit?
CS: It was such an incredible feeling when I entered the dining room and saw my high school Spanish teacher, Mrs. Bernardi, my first sous chef, Dan Lawrence, and many [of the] supporters I have known throughout my career.
Will you do this again here or elsewhere?
CS: We will certainly do many more events together, there are many exciting things on the horizon
And here’s the menu and dishes from the dinner, shot by kc kratt:
SEABAR CHEFS’ DINNER EVENT
Chef Corey Siegel, Chef Mei Lin
SUNDAY JUNE 5th 2016
Profits to benefit the Food Bank of WNY
Smoked Salmon Rillette
Foie Gras Spring Roll
Savory Buttermilk Panna Cotta
Pickled and Preserved Vegetables
Snap Pea -Cucumber Aquachile, Nasturtium
Roasted Pork Belly & “Sweet Corn”
Sweet and Sour Octopus
N.Y. Strip Loin
Smoked Farro, Morels, Oxtail Dumpling
Favas, Preserved Winter Truffle Jus
Berry Mascarpone, Blackberries,
Butter Tart, Basil Honey, Honeycomb