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Torches’ Richert tops Lombardo’s Obarka in Nickel City Chef - VIDEO

Photo courtesy of Facebook / Nickel City Chef.

blog by Kathryn Przybyla  • 

For my first time attending a Nickel City Chef event, I was more than impressed.

A longtime fan of “Iron Chef” and all sorts of cooking challenge shows, I was really looking forward to Buffalo’s spin on the popular series. Opening season five, Challenging Chef Michael Obarka of Ristorante Lombardo was invited to take on Nickel City Chef JJ Richert of Torches for the first battle.

As we arrived at Artisan Kitchen & Baths, guests were treated to some pre-show hors d’oeuvres downstairs. Upon taking our seats in the showroom, we were also offered a delicious Mediteranean bento box with a slew of toppings in addition to a make-your-own carved sandwich with roasted red peppers, greens, carmelized onions and other toppings to choose from.

At this point, in my opinion, the ticket had already paid for itself.

Nickel City Chef

Now onto the showdown.

Co-hosts, Bert Gambini and Mike Andrzejewski did a great job kicking off the cook-off by introducing the competitors and secret ingredient—kale. Judges for the first battle of season five included Janice Okun (former Food Editor at Buffalo News), Nelson Starr (Buffalo Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Famer) and Mark Mistriner (Chair of the new Niagara Culinary Institute).

All three gave a different and interesting take on each of the dishes, even disagreeing at some point how things were cooked. But as a group, it was very clear during judging that all three were highly impressed by Chef Richert’s take on the kale dishes. Although scores we’re somewhat close (with a small advantage given to Chef Richert),  Chef Obarka lost many points in the presentation side of the competition.

Chef Richert’s dishes were beautiful to look at and included an incredible amount of detail, distancing himself as the rightful Nickel City Chef in this competition. Take a look at the finished three-course dishes from the chefs below.

Challenging Chef Michael Obarka of Ristorante Lombardo
Chef Obarka
Course one: Kale and Ricotta Ravioli - thyme-butter emulsion, pecorino romano, lemon zest
Course two: Kale, Taleggio, and Mushroom Tart
Course three: Friuli (by way of Atlanta) - crispy catfish, polenta, kale with speck
Photos courtesy of Facebook / Nickel City Chef

Nickel City Chef JJ Richert of Torches
Chef Richert
Course one: Oysters, three ways - kale rockefeller, beer-battered with kale slaw, and chipotle lime
Course two: Kale Gnocchi - sauteed veal sweetbreads, speck, butternut squash puree
Course three: Airline Pheasant Breast - stuffed with kale and kale-braised sausage with kale risotto
Photos courtesy of Facebook / Nickel City Chef

Also, here is a full video recap from Nickel City Chef, showcasing the dishes, judges and the chefs themselves.

Photo courtesy of Facebook / Nickel City Chef.

TAGGED: chef obarka, chef richert, feed your soul productions, janice okun, mark mistriner, mike andrzejewski, nelson starr, nickel city chef, ristorante lombardo, torches

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