Nickel City Chef – Battle Bread

Kevin Telaak

Nickel City Chef Battle Bread, featuring pain rustique, traditional French baguette, Grain Up! sourdough, and vollkornbrot from Elm Street Bakery in East Aurora, NY, took place on March 8, 2015. Nickel City Chef Brian Mietus of Bacchus Restaurant and his sous chef, Soichiro Kimura, took on Challenger Dustin Murphy of Tabree, and his sous chef Adrian Bylewski.

Judges included Izabela Wojcik, Director of House Programming for the James Beard Foundation, chef Brad Rowell of Elm Street Bakery, and chef Corey Kley of Rue Franklin, a winner from season six.

The show was held at Artisan Kitchens & Baths in Buffalo, NY and hosted by Bert Gambini, Chef Mike Andrzjewski (Seabar, Tappo, Cantina Loco, and Bourbon & Butter), and special guest, chef Adam Goetz of Craving.

FREE GE Monogram appliances!

Kevin Telaak

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Nickel City Chef Season 4 Begins

Kevin Telaak

Feed Your Soul, WNY’s culinary production company, is proud to present Western New York with Nickel City Chef’s fourth season, a four show series running from Feb. 20 – April 15th

Sunday’s competition features Nickel City Chef Krista Van Wagner of Curly’s versus Challenging Chef Frank Mercado, the Executive Chef of M&T Bank’s Executive Dining Room.

Following on the heels of the release of Nickel City Chef’s top-selling cookbook, tickets for this competition and the rest of the 2012 series sold out in less than 45 minutes.

Press and camera crews are encouraged to attend.  Please use the contact information above if you have any questions or are in need of hi-resolution photographs.

More information about Nickel City Chef is noted below the biographies of this week’s participants.  A full Season Four, 2012 schedule and video from past seasons can be found online at www.NickelCityChef.com


Nickel City Chef, Sunday February 19th

This Week’s Chefs were:


Nickel City Chef Krista Van Wagner
Chef/Owner, Curly’s–Buffalo, NY

Nickel City Chef Krista Van Wagner is a graduate CIA with experience in a variety of positions that called for her to work in Switzerland, the Caribbean and various regions of the U.S. Krista and her husband are the chef/owners of Curly’s, one of Buffalo’s most reputable fine dining establishments. Curly’s utilizes the Van Wagners’ passion for Caribbean food and their classical French training to provide diners with a unique and delicious experience. Curly’s success has led to growth–an expansion which included the addition of a banquet center and private dining room. In addition to the restaurant business the couple manufactures a line of sauces/condiments for use in the wholesale/retail sector. Chef Van Wagner and her husband reside in WNY with their 3 children.

Challenging Frank Mercado
Executive Chef, The M&T Executive Dining Room–Buffalo, NY

A graduate of the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute, Frank Mercado’s lengthy resume includes some of Buffalo’s best restaurants—Oliver’s, Tsunami, and Siena among them. As Executive Chef for M&T Bank’s private Executive Dining Room, every day he creates a new menu featuring the world’s freshest ingredients. When not running the scratch kitchen for one of Buffalo’s most prestigious banks, he works shifts at both Torches and Sea Bar in order to keep his skills honed and his experiences varied.

This Week’s Judges:

John Bourdage

Consultant—Buffalo, NY


John Bourdage, of Bourdage Consulting, provides consultation on the improvement of interpersonal relationships through a renewed understanding of service and social skills. As a graduate of Ivor Spencer School for Butler Administration, Bourdage received training in manners, etiquette, food and wines, entertaining, and the fine arts.

Mary Ann Giordanno

Executive Chef and Season Three Winner, Creekview—Buffalo, NY


Mary Ann Giordanno describes her cuisine as “American fusion,” drawing from Mediterranean, Italian, European, and Asian influences. With more than 25 years of experience in the restaurant industry, she has been the Executive Chef at Williamsville’s Creekview Restaurant since 1997. As a chef instructor at Auburn Watson Culinary School, Giordanno shares the passion for cooking she learned from a childhood she describes as being “surrounded by food and life in the kitchen.”

Nelson Starr

Musician and Host, Buffalo. For Real TV—Buffalo, NY


Buffalo Music Hall of Fame inductee Nelson Starr is best known as one of Buffalo’s most influential musicians. Recently, Nelson has turned his keen acumen toward Buffalo’s food scene, bringing celebrity chef and Travel Channel star Anthony Bourdain to Buffalo and hosting Buffalo. For Real TV. Starr has dedicated himself to exploring and revealing WNY’s most treasured cultural gems, hidden hangouts, and beloved pastimes, all with a dose of self-deprecating humor and naive charm.

About Nickel City Chef:

Nickel City Chef pits two chefs against one another in a culinary fete not unlike the popular television show Iron Chef America. At each event, one of our four Nickel City Chefs faces a qualified challenger in a race to complete three technically perfect, innovative dishes featuring the secret ingredient. Because of our dedication to New York, our secret ingredient is always an item that it grown or produced in Western New York.

A panel of qualified judges rates each chef’s offerings using a scoring method that accounts for skill, flavor, appeal and creativity.  This exciting and unique series takes place inside one of Buffalo’s best kept secrets, a turn-of-the-century warehouse on Buffalo’s emerging West Side. Formerly a wood-­burning stove company, Artisan Kitchens & Baths is Western New York’s premiere appliance retailer. Its second floor is a loft showroom completely outfitted with side-by-­side $100,000 competition‑worthy kitchens.

The 200 attendees at each event watch the battle unfold live while sampling catered snacks.  The audience’s ability to enjoy the event is enhanced by the 10 flat screen panel televisions that hang throughout the location providing close-ups of both chefs’ stoves, work spaces and plating areas. Extra points are awarded to the chef that earns the respect of the audience.

Our Nickel City Chefs include Chef Adam Goetz of SAMPLE, Brian Mietus of Bacchus, Chef JJ Richert of Torches and Chef Krista Van Wagner of Curly’s. 

Many thanks to the other sponsors: Jenn Air, SubZero, Wolf, GE Monogram, Cutco, Wegmans, Mansion on Delaware Avenue, D’Avolio, Independent Health Foundation/Healthy Options Buffalo, Buffalo Cheese Traders, the Buffalo chapter of the Chaine de Rotisseurs, Taste of Buffalo presented by Tops, Buffalo Spree and Kemper Cabinets

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