By Danielle Haynes
The Tonawanda News
Christa Glennie Seychew wants everyone to take notice of the food scene in Western New York. The producer of the Nickel City Chef cooking competition — think Iron Chef, the Buffalo edition — says she wants to bring awareness to local food, whether it be area farms where produce is grown, the markets and restaurants selling that food or the chefs cooking it up in the kitchens.
“My whole career started out as trying to put Buffalo’s food scene on the map,” Seychew said. “But I first needed to convince Buffalonians that we had great, fantastic, world-class food.”
That’s where the NCC challenges came into the picture. And those challenges — there have been 16 over the past three years — are being highlighted in a new book and DVD, “Nickel City Chef.”
Something between a cookbook, a source for local ingredients and a who’s who in Western New York cuisine, the book has a little bit of something for everyone, Seychew said.
“If you’re a person that doesn’t like to cook but loves to eat at local restaurants, you’ll still like the book,” Seychew said. “As the publisher (Marti Gorman) likes to say, it’s such a great book you’ll like one for your coffee table as well as one for your kitchen.”
It features 16 chapters, one for each NCC challenge that’s been held to date.
The chapters include two recipes (one from the challengers, one from defending NCC), a profile of the challenge’s secret ingredient, a full menu from each chef and a profile of the challenging chef. Area farms are also highlighted as sources of fresh produce, meat and dairy products.
“It shows the wonderful food products that are here in Buffalo that are sourced locally from farmers, (which is preferable) simply because of the freshness of it but also because it’s wholesome, it’s organic,” said John Bourdage, a NCC judge who is a wine and hospitality consultant. “People know that’s so much healthier.”
Bourdage, of North Tonawanda, says he thinks the NCC show and book are part of a growing interest in food, not just in Western New York, but across the country. He calls it a “foodie revolution.”
“I think you see far more creativity now with (food). I think the food scene has grown and with Food Network people are becoming far more aware,” Bourdage said. “People are cooking at home, trying to create different foods that they haven’t tried before.”
Bourdage — who has also worked as an etiquette specialist at Niagara University — echoes Seychew’s concern that the Buffalo culinary scene has been overlooked. He said chefs in Buffalo have a lot to bring to the table.
“I think too many times Buffalo’s been branded a rust belt city and people overlook the culinary talent we have,” he said. “I think this book would be a landmark to have a rediscovery for what’s going on.”
“Nickel City Chef” and accompanying DVD can be purchased at local bookstores, Barnes and Noble and www.amazon.com. For more information, visit www.