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Buffalo's restaurant evangelist takes a step back

Christa Glennie Seychew is taking a break from the restaurant business.

The former Pearl Street Grill office manager from Seattle first left restaurants to start working as a food editor in 2006, for Buffalo Rising. Becoming Buffalo Spree food editor, then senior editor, she worked to draw attention to Western New York’s farms and the kind of restaurants they could make possible.

She also worked long hours outside publication offices to give culinarily talented daughters and sons of Buffalo reasons to come home.

She launched Nickel City Chef, the live cooking contest that pits two local chefs against each other using prime locally-produced ingredients like Oles Farm vegetables from Alden and T-Meadow pork from Lockport. Tickets for the series’ eighth season go on sale Jan. 1.

With chef-owner Mike Andrzejewski of SeaBar, she organized the city’s first industry night, giving restaurant types and civilians a chance to experience exotic ingredients, flights of fancy and skill competitions. Held at SeaBar, there have been 50 so far. There will be two more before IN breaks for the holidays, she said; see industrynightbuffalo.com for details.

With Buffalo food blogger Donnie Burtless of BuffaloEats.org, Seychew started a podcast called Grain of Salt, devoted to Buffalo food issues and people, now 42 episodes deep. It will continue, she said.

With chef-owner Steven Gedra of The Black Sheep, and the assistance of Slow Food Buffalo, she organized Big Fuss, a restaurant-based fundraiser at Artisan Kitchen & Baths that benefits a local food producer. This year’s recipient will be Dispenza’s Meat Market in Ransomville [read an update on that business]. The event is Nov. 11. Tickets go on sale Oct. 18 at feedyoursoulproductions.com.

In the meantime, Seychew will become City Dining Cards’ content manager, she wrote in a Facebook post.

My recent declaration that some Buffalo restaurants are developing an only-in-Buffalo cuisine that I called “New-School Buffalo” tipped a decision that had been a year coming, she wrote.

She didn’t declare her evangelism for Buffalo restaurants complete – just over the hump.

“Last fall I realized that finding well-prepared, exciting, and delicious food in Buffalo is no longer an accident or a fluke. To me, the city’s contemporary restaurant scene finally felt good, less like an excellent meal was a one-hit wonder nestled among a giant crop of Top 40 parm and chicken wings.”

“Sure, there is still work to do,” she wrote. “There aren't enough healthy options available at a fair price. Casual restaurants still cover cheap factory meat in cheese made from oil. Diners still think they shouldn't eat pork that is pink in the center.”

But changes in the Buffalo restaurant community that she noticed over the last year made her feel like it was time to switch gears, she said.

“What I used to experience all day every day was a driving, unrelenting, restless, and intense focus that I could not pinpoint or put down. But last fall that all shifted for me, and I am now ready to give my energy to something new, and maybe to save a little for myself this time. So I am taking a step back (or maybe sideways) from the ongoing quest I've been honored to be a part of with so many wonderful people.”

Send restaurant news to agalarneau@buffnews.com

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