the show for the fans and not because
it was moving the needle. Our fans are
the most dedicated, enthusiastic, and
sweetest people, but I am a person who
needs to be working toward a greater
good, and being entertaining just isn’t
enough for me. As a team, I’d also say
we’re a little tired! Adam Goetz has
been with me from the beginning, as
has Mike A, Bert Gambini, and the
amazing folks from Artisan. We did
what we set out to do: Buffalo knows
and loves its amazing chefs and farmers. Now it’s time to do something new.
What’s your prognosis for Buffalo’s new food scene?
Young enthusiasm and new thinking
about ingredients and chef-driven dining pushed us out of our collective rut,
but right now we have a lot of confusion
about who we are and what we want,
an identity crisis of sorts. We’re going
to grow out of it; there’s no way we
won’t, but it’s going to take time and,
given our state of confusion and lack
of collaboration, there’s no hint as to
what we’ll emerge as on the other side:
Another Portland? Another Asheville?
Or will we be like every city in the
country whose restaurants are run by
businessmen, where creativity and collaboration are discouraged and profits
rule all decisionmaking? It’s tough to
say, but rest assured, if there’s an idea
worth spreading, people like me will be
here to do the work.
Elizabeth Licata is editor of Spree and enjoyed working
with Christa Glennie Seychew when Seychew
was Spree’s food editor.
show for the first time, how blown away
they are reminds me that we’ve created
something rather special.
What is the legacy of NCC in your
Showcasing local chefs and farmers to the Buffalo public was our initial
goal. It’s hard to believe that up until
a few years ago, people who lived here
their whole lives had no idea Buffalo is
surrounded by farms raising fantastic
produce and livestock. What we didn’t
realize was that, in the first five or so
years of the show, what we were really doing was introducing chefs to chefs
and farmers to chefs, and the outcome
of that has had more impact on the
city’s food scene than anything we did
for our lovely audience.
Reason you are stopping now?
NCC has been challenging and
rewarding. Outside of having children,
it has been the most mixed bag of stress
and joy I’ve personally experienced.
But, a few years ago, the food scene
finally hit its stride, and in my opinion, since then, we’ve been producing
Nickel City Chef’s
BY ELIZABETH LICATA
Ten years and forty live
shows later, Buffalo’s own
Iron Chef, Nickel City Chef,
is hanging up its saucepans
and packing up its knives.
Winter Sundays will never
be the same for the avid
fans of this professional
cooking competition, who
made sure that every season
was sold out within weeks
of announcement. NCC is
unusual among shows of this
kind because each week’s
mystery ingredient must
be locally grown and/or
produced, thus highlighting
resources that can only
be found in Western New
York and are seasonally
appropriate. In other ways,
NCC follows the Iron Chef
format; each week, a new
chef challenges one of NCC’s
resident four champions to
create the best dishes with
the chosen ingredient.
For Nickel City Chef founder, Christa Glennie Seychew, this project has
always meant much more than a Sunday afternoon’s worth of entertainment
and fun. Her conception of NCC included a specific mission, as she explains,
“The series launched in 2009 and, back
then, I felt it was silly locals knew the
names of chefs on television but not in
their own town. I also saw the show as
a way to drive interest and understanding of local farms and food producers.”
Seychew has further insights to
share in a short interview:
Can you name some highlights
over the years you’ve run NCC?
For our Nickel City chefs, I am
guessing the highlights include the publication of our book and our visit to
the James Beard House, but for me the
highlights are smaller, more personal. I
am madly in love with our behind-the-scenes crew. Anytime I get to spend
with Mike A [chef Michael Andrzejew-ski] is a good time. I am deeply honored to have been part of several of the
things that pushed Buffalo’s food scene
forward, including Nickel City Chef.
Anytime an out-of-town judge sees our
A view from the audience: Mike Andrzejewski and Bert Gambini provide the play-by-play.
Nickel City Chef’s first battle of the 2018
season takes place on February 18,
with Nickel City chef Edward Forster v.
challenger Joseph Fenush. Three more
battles and a finale are also scheduled.
Visit nickelcitychef.com for tickets
and information. All battles
take place at Artisan Kitchen
& Baths, 200 Amherst St.