When Western New York-native and photographer-cum-chef Emily Pierce-Delaney moved back to Buffalo after years living elsewhere and everywhere—from Portland to Thailand—she was pleasantly surprised to find the city had changed for the better in her absence.
“I realized the great parts of Buffalo I grew up with were finally being able to flourish.”
Specifically, she found a vibrant local food scene being driven by like-minded culinarians intent on promoting the farm-to-table ethos Emily had ascribed to since her days at a small cooking school in the South of France. One of those likeminded individuals, Jill Gedra, installed Emily in the kitchen at Nickel City Cheese & Mercantile, where Emily was given the freedom to experiment with the flavors she was exposed to while working on a farm and in restaurants in the Pacific Northwest.
But like most chefs, Emily eventually got the itch to do something on her own. Fast forward to present, and she is up to her Same Old Antics.
To clarify, Same Old Antics is the name of Emily’s independent business venture that focuses on pop-up culinary events. The pop-up dining concept, which is popular around the country, gives chefs the opportunity to showcase their culinary skills and creativity to small groups of customers in an intimate dinner party setting. Generally, the location of the dinner goes undisclosed until the last minute, adding an air or exclusivity and mystery to the occasion.
Emily stages Same Old Antics dinners once a month at various secret venues around Buffalo for customers hungry for something a little different.
“It’s not just about going to eat,” Emily insists.
That’s because Emily goes to great lengths to ensure the dinners are memorable culinary experiences. For each, she devises a unique multicourse menu built around a particular theme. Sometimes the themes are seasonal—as was the case with her September Oktoberfest event, which featured a family-style menu of classic German vegetable and bean salads, bratwurst and weisswurst, potato pancakes, spaetzle, and kuchen with honey ice cream.
Other times, she gets playful. In planning the menu for Same Old Antic’s upcoming October 25 dinner, Emily drew inspiration from the foods popular at carnivals across the American south. Attendees at that event should anticipate gourmet takes on fair favorites like popcorn, cotton candy, sno cones, corn dogs, and fried dough. And some dishes, like the savory doughnut with sweet fried chicken Emily plans to serve, will challenge attendees to rethink the culinary “rules” they’re likely accustomed to.
Aside from creativity flexibility, the pop-up approach affords Emily the time between events to painstakingly choose every ingredient.
“By doing a different dinner each time, I get to research flavors, utilize what’s in season, and talk to farmers about what they’d like to see happen with their food.”
At the Oktoberfest dinner, for instance, Emily featured produce from Golden Hour Farm and Spar’s sausages, and paired each course with a beer from Hamburg Brewing Company or Community Beer Works. And to see Same Old Antics through winter, she spent much of the summer preserving local cherry tomatoes and fruits like plums using techniques taught to her by her mentors in Portland.
Emily considers her support for local farms and producers par for the course among Buffalo chefs nowadays.
“Buffalo has such a hearty hometown spirit. Cooks in Buffalo are finding pride in utilizing products from around here. It’s the decision to use someone because you believe in their farm, and they’re part of Buffalo, and you’re part of Buffalo, and you want to see each other thrive.”
Same Old Antics October 25 dinner is sold out, but you can learn more about upcoming events (like a November “Not Your Mother’s Thanksgiving” dinner) by following Same Old Antics on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Photos: Same Old Antics