If you get sweaty palms watching the cooking intensity of Iron Chef you’ll know how excited I was to be part of the 5th annual Nickel City Chef cook-off in Buffalo this year. Taking place over four weekends, I was asked to be a judge for the final competition on April 14th.
Chef Adam Goetz and sous-chef Adam Cook trying to beat the clock.
The chefs in the challenge both wield impressive resumes of training and cooking internationally and across the US. Chef Adam Goetz who was days away from opening a new resto called Crave has previously been Executive Chef Saucier at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
What do you want people to know about the food scene and chefs in Buffalo?
I want visitors to understand that while we may be known for chicken wings, limiting the understanding of our food scene to a common bar snack is not unlike assuming NYC is made of nothing but pizza. We share the same terroir as Ontario, so those restaurants that focus on local, seasonal fare are as adept and capable as a good Toronto restaurant. We also have more independent restaurants per capita, than many other cities our size, with very few chains located within the city limits. An abundance of young, engaged, well-traveled chefs have returned to open their own restaurants here, and while it may not obvious to those who come to Buffalo to see a game or shop at the mall, there is a groundswell of passion here for the excellent dining experiences that can be had.
What frustrates you about people’s perception of the Buffalo culinary scene?
It makes me sad to think that visitors choose to eat at chain restaurants. If I thought that Toronto was only the few blocks surrounding the Air Canada Centre or the inside the Eaton Centre, I’d have missed out on so many amazing, delicious meals! And while it would be wrong of us not to embrace the Buffalo chicken wing as part of our city’s edible history, it is not the summation of our region.
What is your goal with Nickel City Chef?
Nickel City Chef seeks to showcase Buffalo’s culinary talent, giving a proper stage to our hardworking chefs and skilled farmers.
The secret ingredient was fresh cheese: mozzarella and burrata from Nickel City Cheese and Mercantile
Felix making choices at Nickel City Cheese
As for the menu, here it is. Both were outstanding, especially given the limited time but Chef Edward Forster won the competition…this time.
— Nickel City Chef Adam Goetz, Crave
Nickel City Sous Chef DJ Cook
Fresh Mozzarella and OrangeAgnolotti
Braised swiss chard, tomato, pecans, brown butter
Pancetta, fine herbes, carrot mousse, peppered buratta medallion
Rack of Lamb
Burrata polenta, asparagus, red pearl onion, spicy squash, beech mushroom, fried mozzarella, tomato beurre rouge, herbed burrata quenelle
Course 3: Cheese Course
Buratta, wild mushroom crostini, tomato strawberry chutney, herbed parmesan shortbread, balsamic, fresh mozzarella, pine nut brittle, compressed watermelon, kalamata powder —
Challenging Chef Edward Forster, Mike A @ Hotel Lafayette
Challenging Sous Chef Scott Crombie Course 1:
Fresh Mozzarella Salad ( I LOVED THIS)
Pine nuts, herbs, hay smoked mozzarella, olive tapenade
Braised barley, English peas, black barley burrata, pea-stained whey broth
Warm Mozzarella Tart
Rhubarb and strawberry compote, long pepper, almond
The Mansion (of my dreams) on Delaware
And one last thing–for an amazing weekend getaway, book some dinners in this emerging culinary destination and stay at the Mansion on Delaware. So beautiful, so comfy, so luxurious….the service impeccable but relaxed. Amazing buffet breakfast and lovely happy hour in the beautiful sitting rooms. We will be back as soon as we can. Leaving is not easy.
Tailgate Party, here I come. According to Wikipedia, I don’t even have to like sports to hang out in a parking lot with a portable slow cooker. SEE HERE. Nor do I have to own a vehicle with a tailgate. I just have to consume alcohol and grilled food in a social setting. DONE. As for the parking lot… If I get a parking permit I can drink beer and eat chicken wings in my car, parked right outside my house. And the bonus? No need for a port-a-potty as a real bathroom is just steps away (if you consider a 1970’s lavender toilet and sink a real bathroom).
I found this TAILGATE magazine at Wal-Mart (issued by Better Homes and Gardens). Right away I thought, if “Grab a chip! Nine ways to Dip!” doesn’t fit into my new vegetarian-ish lifestyle, then I don’t know what does. (Count ’em! 1. Spinach-dill 2. Roasted pepper hummus 3. Corn and black bean chutney guacamole 4. tomatillo salsa 5. Spinach-Articoke-Blue cheese and bacon (all vegetarians still eat bacon) 6. Mexican seven layer 7. Chocolate Fruit Dip and 8. something called Amaretto fluff…..hopefully there’s not a kitten involved)
OK, OK, #9 is a Cheeseburger dip, but if you’ve got 8 veggies dips, who’s going to notice?
Don't deny this cuteness
Once you see what’s inside this magazine may never need to by another cookbook:
**Recipe for a White Chili made with chicken, sour cream and whipping cream (you can use 10% if you’re cutting back on fat)
**Recipe for Grilled Paella w/ sausage
**A “Timings and Temperatures” chart that covers beef, lamb, pork, chicken, turkey, fish and seafood (it’s colourful and you can tear it out!)
**And calorie and sodium reduction tips like, “pack your bun with only half the massive amount of Texas Beef Brisket that you usually do”
**Best of All– A taste-test of 16 hot sauces purchased at hotsaucedepot.com (it’s almost enough to have discovered a Hot Sauce Depot)
So laugh and feel superior as you eat your salmon hand-roll, but just know that you’re not having nearly as good a time as the gal eating the Ragin’ Cajun Wings while sipping a Bloody Mary in the back of her Subaru. (Also, I know you’re drooling over the magazine cover, not the nori wrap on your sushi.)