– Written by Bridget Schaefer –
Buffalo’s cultural resurgence may be what everyone’s talking about, but the city’s culinary scene has been building up that reputation for years – and Nickel City Chef proves it.
For those of you who live under a rock (and not near Black Rock), each episode of Nickel City pins two Buffalo chefs against each other at Artisan Kitchens and Baths. The competition started up again for its eighth season, with this season’s theme of new chefs going against esteemed alum. Competing chefs create three dishes focusing on a local, secret ingredient.
During the last competition the secret ingredient was revealed in a very dramatic, Food Network fashion. Roll out the cart, whip off the sheet, boom: masa and tortillas from Lloyd. As the kitchens heated up (literally), I was up close and personal with both chefs: Chef Chaz Bulera of The Riverstone Grill and Chef Jennifer Boye of Elm Street Bakery. By up close, I mean I was shoving a camera in their pots, pans, faces, blenders, you name it- I was taking pictures of it. High Watermark Films creates the docu-style episodes for the web, so when they asked me to help out, I was all in.
Long story short, Chef Boye dominated… again. This was her fourth go around and you could tell, she was a badass (as was her sous chef, Griffin, who is just 19 years old). The two made extremely creative dishes that looked nothing like Lloyd tortillas. Chef Boye went the comfort food route with stuff like homemade hot chocolate and buttermilk biscuits, while Chef Bulera tried to wow the judges with a few fancy techniques, including a pressure cooker.
Lesson learned… people love comfort, stick with chocolate.
-First course – Jalapeno Masa Gnocchi with Shrimp: Roasted corn, masa garlic cream
-Second Course – Masa Poutine with Short Rib, Masa espagnole, queso de oaxaca, pickled celery and radish
-Third course – Champurrada – Masa benuelos, corn glaze
-First Course – Masa, Beet & Rye Kernel Tortilla Borscht-short rib, crème fraiche, tortilla hash
-Second Course – Tortilla Fried Quail: Masa buttermilk biscuit, kale chilaquiles, masa peanut gravy
-Third course – Champurrado and Cannoli – Masa hot chocolate, flour tortilla cannoli
All these people in the crowd. Who DOES get to eat that food? Only the judges… it’s cruel.