February 21, 2011
Written by: Vincent McConeghy
"The sweeter the apple, the blacker the core. Scratch a lover and find a foe!" Dorothy Parker
Chef Krista Van Wagner made two crucial decisions that staked her way to victory against challenger Chef Jennifer Boye during Battle Apple in the first installment of season three of Nickel City Chef held at Artisan Kitchens and Baths.
Chef Van Wagner won the pre-competition coin toss to determine plating order, and she wisely deferred the lead to Chef Boye.
This decision placed emphasis on the final course of the evening. Chef Van Wagner's dessert preparation, which offered a stinging contrapuntal note of aged Vermont goat cheese that seemed to sway the judges' perception of what can and should be done with an apple, sealed victory.
Some might argue that an apple- pure and incorruptible as is (and in this instance, as local as Dan Tower Farm of Youngstown)- should never be finagled into something other than its native state.
But that does not make for great theatre.
Even while host Bert Gambini attempted to downplay the apple's biblical significance during his show monologue, we detected a glimmer of mirth in the eyes of Nickel City matchmaker extraordinaire, Christa Glennie Seychew, as she described the scheduling quirk that led to the first-ever competition between two female chefs in Nickel City, and the inclusion of the iconic ingredient that led to humankind's Original Sin.
"It was not by design that I scheduled Krista and Jennifer, but when things fell that way, I realized it was a tremendous opportunity to showcase two professional female Chefs, which is something of a rarity in our area."
How's that for a setup?
For a detailed description of courses we will now send you over to Seychew's roundup at Buffalo Spree.
But speculate we will on other things; such as why one might hold a preference for female chefs in general (See: Nancy Oakes, Missy Robbins, Kelly Liken, Barbara Lynch).
The same thing might be said of the kitchens of female chefs in regards to what and what not to cook. Very rarely will you see an ingredient that does not make sense from the menu of a professional female chef.
Mistakes, botched preparations, failed executions, yes of course. We are all human. But impropriety- that is a rarer side effect of the feminine culinary consciousness and evidence still of its superiority.
This is a grand and unsupportable statement but I must rely on the anecdotal proof provided by Chef Van Wagner and Chef Boye during Nickel City, both whom restrained the impulse to go 'off-label' and focused on the demands of the plate.
Eve knew exactly what she was doing in offering an apple to Adam.
It happened long ago, in the fruit orchards of northern Niagara county, a moment in late Summer and before Fall when the fruit of Dan Tower's trees, plump and resplendent, sat waiting to be picked.
Eve had offered Adam something perfect but Adam proceed to do the unthinkable. He attempted to peel, slice, roast, juice, macerate, simmer, grill, poach and all sorts of other unspeakable things with that singular manly invention- fire.
That's when all the troubles started.