Tonawanda News

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January 21, 2013

This season's Nickel City Chef lineup includes Niagara, Tonawanda chefs


Tonawanda News — “We don’t play it safe,” he said.

In previous years they made a sorbet with a red wine caviar garnish inside 16 minutes  and they cooked octopus in a pressure cooker within the 60 minute time limit. These dishes normally require a long preparation or cooking process that they managed to streamline using different techniques.

Seychew described Richert as a flashier chef, someone who embraces the concept of showmanship while cooking in the NCC competitions, while Obarka is more of a “blue collar, salt-of-the-earth guy.”

“Richert really understands that his personality is a big factor and that showmanship is a major component to being a successful celebrity chef,” she said. Meanwhile, “Obarka is very dedicated chef, who makes nearly everything from scratch. That is really to be admired because it means the chef cares about the quality of every ingredient he’s using, not just the final product.”

The two are evenly matched, she said, but bring two different perspectives to the table.

Obarka admits his more “rustic, masculine style” might prove to be a hinderance since most of what he cooks isn’t meant to be done in an hour. 

“So I’m going to have to get creative,” he said.

And it’s because of that creativity on display at events like NCC that perhaps the chefs of Western New York are recently becoming more recognized.

“We didn’t really have chefs — besides Mike A. (Andrzejewski) — who anyone in the general public could spot,” Seychew said of the Buffalo restaurant scene 10 years ago. “Restaurants could change chefs 20 times in a year.

“Today we have chef-driven restaurants and Nickel City Chef has been a part of that. If people could buy a Bobby Flay or Rachel Ray cookbook, why wouldn’t they been interested in who’s cooking their food down the street?” she added. 

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