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Andrzejewski to get gritty in New York City - Updated w/INTERVIEW

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

It’s a touch bizarre that one of the highest honors bestowed upon an American chef is the chance to cook at a former catholic school turned “culinary salon.”

But that’s just what Seabar, Mike A’s Steakhouse and Cantina Loco owner Mike Andrzejewski has earned—he’ll take his Buffalo-influenced sushi menu and flaunt it to the patrons of New York City’s City Grit.

Andrzewjeski’s craft will be featured at 7:30 p.m. on May 30 at 38 Prince St., New York, NY (a few blocks from Broadway). Tickets are $65, and you can purchase them here. Beer and wine is available at additional cost.

Having opened in 2011, City Grit is a project of esteemed Southern chef Sarah Simmons, who was named one of “America’s Greatest New Cooks” by Food & Wine Magazine.

You can glean quite a bit of information about City Grit’s intentions from this excerpt from the “About” page.

Through its carefully cultivated relationships, CITY GRIT is more than just good food; it’s redefining the American dining experience. It is idea and resource sharing at its best; chefs discovering vendors, creating dishes for new audiences and offering diners a new experience to stimulate all the senses on every visit.

Andrzejewski’s most recent honor is the latest in a busy 18 months for the former executive chef at Oliver’s and owner of Tsunami, who has opened Cantina Loco and Mike A’s Steakhouse in that brief period—and he intends to open Tappo on Ellicott Street in the coming months, according to Buffalo Spree’s Christa Glennie Seychew.

The Boston Globe’s Steve Jermanok was effusive in his praise of Andrzejewski, as the travel writer sampled the fare at Mike A’s Steakhouse and wrote the following:

Mike Andrzejewski is one of the city’s best loved chefs and he finally has a high-end restaurant that matches his talent. One taste of his wagyu beef tartare, spiced with pine nuts, capers, watercress, red onions, olive oil, truffled dijon mustard, and egg yolk, and you realize this dude’s destined for a James Beard Award.

No Buffalo chef has ever been selected as a James Beard Award winner—essentially the Heisman Trophy for American chefs—though the Anchor Bar won in the category for “American Classics” in 2003. Andrzejewski has been nominated twice, however, but has not come away with the prestigious honor.

Buffalo Spree food editor and Feed Your Soul founder Christa Glennie Seychew compares Andrzejewski’s CIty Grit invitation in the same vein as the opportunity to cook at New York City’s James Beard House.

“City Grit is similar to being invited to cook at the James Beard House, but it is lock, stock, and barrel, a more boutique experience,” Seychew said. “Mike being invited is a pretty big deal, and I’d gush on about this, but it is very typical of Mike to chart the course for Buffalo chefs and restaurants. Other WNY chefs have had the chance to cook at the Beard House, but Mike’s been there four times.”

Athenaeum Hotel chef Ross Warhol has showcased his skills at the James Beard House, as the Chautauqua Institution extraordinaire was invited to cook there in October 2012.

According to an email from Seychew, Western New York’s younger generation of chefs—recognizable names like James Roberts, Edward Forster and Warhol, I’d assume—could very well follow the path laid by Andrzejewski.

“Being nominated by the JBF under any circumstances is a pretty amazing thing, and the only person operating a restaurant in WNY to touch that Holy Grail is Mike,” said the local food media wizard and brain behind Nickel City Chef.

“I do think it is very likely [Andrzejewski] will achieve that in his lifetime, but I also think that Buffalo is on the verge of making a leap forward on the national culinary stage, and I think that some JBF nods are in the future for some of our younger chefs, without a doubt.”

Moreover, Andrzejewski’s Seabar—Buffalo’s most popular sushi restaurant—was invited to serve the “beef on weck sushi roll” at the Taste of the NFL in February, which invited top-notch restaurants from the cities of all 32 NFL franchises.

Kudos to Chef Andrzejewski for his national recognition, and if there are any ex-pats hanging out in New York City with a few extra dollars handy, the City Grit dinner may be worth the adventure.

TAGGED: cantina loco, christa glennie seychew, city grit, hotel at the lafayette, mike a's steakhouse, mike andrzejewski, sarah simmons, seabar, sushi

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