A couple months ago it was announced that the four Nickel City Chefs would be preparing a meal in the historic James Beard House in New York City. In the last year we’ve seen Chef Ross Warhol and the team from Mike A’s receive invitations, but never have four Buffalo Chefs traveled to the house to cook and represent our culinary scene. Our good friend Christa Glennie Seychew has been working on changing the perception of Buffalo’s dining scene for years and with this invitation to the prestigious Beard House, it’s clear that her hard work is paying off. Nickel City Chef has always tried to educate the Western New York population about our quality independent restaurants and farming community. Due to the success and popularity of the events (they sell out in minutes), Christa and the Chefs will now have the chance to educate even more people. The dinner will feature Chef Adam Goetz (CRAVing), Chef Jennifer Boye (The Mansion), Chef JJ Richert (Torches), Chef Brian Mietus (Bacchus) and Bartender Jon Karel (The Revelry, formally of Vera Pizzeria). In preparation for the dinner, a dress rehearsal was held last Sunday at The Mansion on Delaware for a small audience. We were very lucky to attend.
The dinner started with hor d’oeuvres that were presented by Chef Richert (who wasn’t able to be there but his sous chef was filling in) and Chef Mietus. They did a great job re-imagining Buffalo classics. The Beef on Weck was served on a small spoon as a single bite; crispy beef demi-glace with dehydrated horseradish and caraway crackers. The Foie Gras Pierogi was an upscale version of the classic Polish dish and was topped with a Loganberry gastrique (another fun WNY nod). Sausage and Peppers was more straight forward. A bite of fennel-scented sausage, onion peppery jelly and bread crumbs. Of course the Chicken Wing was not the traditional wing we are all used to but instead was comprised of garlic herb sausage stuffed with truffle Parmesan wrapped in prosciutto all on a bone. It was messy but really delicious. At the bar, Jon Karel was serving his take on the Negroni called The Wooden Nickel which featured vodka from the local Lockhouse Distillery, Smoked Bacon-washed Campari and Pun e Mes Vermouth.
After hanging out with some friends and enjoy our cocktails, we then took our seats for dinner. First course was a Bibb Heart Salad with Carrot Greens, Nasturtium, Roasted Wild Mushrooms, and Pickled Carrots presented by Jennifer Boye and paired with Leonard Oaks Steampunk Cider. The pickled vegetables had just the right level of sour, the meaty mushrooms added a bit of savory and the sweet cider worked just right to balance everything out. Chef Adam Goetz presented the second course, Corn Agnolotti with Pork Broth, Pickled Chowder Vegetables, Husk Dust and Potato Foam that was paired with Silver Thread Gewurztraminer 2012. The hand-made corn agnolotti was paired with a delicious pork broth that had the entire table wishing they could lick their bowl. Chef Goetz explained that it took him several tries to get the broth just right.
The third course was presented by Chef JJ Richert and was a nod to the classic Buffalo fish fry; Cod with Dill-Beer Spaetzle, Duck Egg Tartar, Malt Vinegar Powder and Olive Oil Frites was paired with Dr Konstantin Frank Pinot Gris 2011. At first glance it doesn’t look like the fish fry you’d find at your local pub and the deconstructed tartar sauce was a fun twist by Chef Richert. The Dill-Beer Spaetzle gave the dish the needed crunch that all good fish fries are known for. Our fourth course was a Herb-Crusted Veal Tenderloin, Leek Confit and Charred Tomato Demi-Glace on Chef Mietus’ signature Potato Chip paired with Onabay Vineyards Merlot-Cabernet Franc Blend 2007. The veal was tender and cooked almost perfectly, the leek confit was sweet and creamy and the sour tomato rounded out the flavor profile of the dish.
The dessert trio was prepared by Chef Jennifer Boye and Chef Adam Goetz and didn’t disappoint, even though most of the of the attendees were starting to get full. On the plate was Chevre Arborio Pudding, an Apple Frybread and a Dark Chocolate Madeleine-Cinnamon Ice Cream Sandwich with a cup of Turkish Coffee for dipping. The ice cream sandwich was a big hit at our table, the soft dark chocolate cake and spiced ice cream were a nice pairing. I could have eaten several pieces of the apple fry bread, the soft pillow of fried dough was topped with bits of sweet apple and salty caramel.
Overall, the evening was a success from our stand point. While it may have been stressful for these four chefs to coordinate with each other and share a kitchen, you wouldn’t have noticed from their food. Buffalo’s culinary scene has continually been on the rise over the past 5 years and it’s events like these that make me proud to be around to see it happen. The four courses, hor d’oeuvres, cocktail and desserts were not only creative but represented Buffalo’s culinary history while also providing a glimpse into it’s hopefully bright future.
If you’d like to purchase tickets to the dinner in NYC on October 16, here is the link. Tickets for sixth season of Nickel City Chef will go on sale Jan 3rd, 2014. Mark it down now. To see more pictures from the event, check out our facebook gallery here.