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Kitchen stars shine at Nickel City Chef dinner

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Nickel City Chef, Buffalo's own Iron Chef-ish live cooking competition, sold out all four events this summer in the first three days tickets were on sale. So it was no surprise that a dinner Thursday night featuring all four Nickel City Chefs was packed to capacity as well. About 90 eaters lined tables in the Artisan Kitchens space on Amherst Street that hosts the battles.

Guests were greeted with pink bubbly at the door, but Krista Van Wagner from Curly's started the eating with roasted beet soup with broiled fig, toasted hazelnuts and white chocolate (above).

Adam Goetz of Sample served braised beef short rib "canneloni" that used braised leek as the tube instead of the standard pasta.

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Paul Jenkins of Tempo served up straight-ahead Italian comfort food, braised veal on soft polenta.

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JJ Richert of Torches made quite an entrance with his sous chef, carrying two lambs that had been in the smoker outside, tilting his presentation to the Halloween side of town. That's him on the left:

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The plate was savage lamb slabs with mashed potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes and such, and mint chimichurri.

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Dessert was apples four ways. My favorite bite was the tiny quince apple tart with manchego cheese crust from Tempo:

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All night long, the chefs worked on each other's dishes, expediting plates to serve the waiting, watching diners. A staff of polished servers lined up, then whisked the plates to the hungry.

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JJ Richert and Adam Goetz confer as the plates start flying, with Goetz's canneloni being plated in the foreground:

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Paul Jenkins takes his turn presenting his dish to the crowd:

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Krista Van Wagner's photos were the victims of amateur photography, for which I apologize.

Christa Glennie Seychew, the Nickel City Chef mastermind, reports that next season begins in February. Eight events are planned, with each Nickel City Chef defending twice. The rundown should be on the website by December, and tickets should go on sale in January.

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