Altoona native taking on Seattle in cooking competition

Altoona native Chef Michael Roddey is excited to take a bite out of Seattle.

Roddey, an executive chef, lecturer and industry and educational consultant who has his own business, Gastronomic Services & Consulting, Duncansville, will face off against Seattle’s Skillet Diner Executive Chef Nick Novello in a Bite of Seattle cook off.

Groupon Bite of Seattle is a food festival with entertainment and activities including a movie night and wine, craft beer and hard cider tastings that kicks off Friday and takes place through Sunday at the Seattle Center in Seattle, according to the festival website, www.biteofseattle. com. The festival also supports the charities Food Lifeline and FareStart.

“A lot of major cities will have these type of events to allow restaurants to feature what they do. And not only restaurants, but there’s other gatherings and different things that are going on at the same time,” Roddey said.

Roddey is scheduled to face off against Novello at 2 p.m. Friday. Other showdowns are also scheduled during the three-day event.

The cook-off is part of The Bite Cooks! portion of the event with host Thierry Rautureau, Seattle restaurant owner and James Beard Award winner. The competition set-up is similar to the Food Network television show “Chopped,” with contestants having 30 minutes to create a dish using three mystery basket ingredients. A pantry is also provided, and audience members will judge the dishes.

Roddey knows he has “to beat the home team,” but doesn’t anticipate “any bitter feelings in any regard no matter how it flushes out. I’ll go and do the best I can do with what we’re given, and everything should turn out OK.”

Novello is anticipating geoduck, a type of large clam, as a basket ingredient, and his fresh skills and work ethic to garner him the win, he said.

“Here’s the deal: I’m in the kitchen every single day. I cook every single day. I am on the front lines in each of my restaurants every single day, so truthfully I’m going to walk in there and do what I do. And that’s cook really good food. With that being said, I’m not one of those ‘mightier than thou’ chefs. I definitely will get on your station and show you exactly why I have my job,” he said.

Fun is on the menu for the competition, though.

“I look for a fun time. Win or lose, I’m excited to go. I always want to go up against somebody who is better than me or at least as good, so if I lose, I can go ‘OK, cool, I lost to somebody who’s a good opponent,'” Novello said.

Roddey said such competitions are a great way of identifying a chef’s skill set and “really, you have to understand product, you have to understand utilization, so with my depth of experience that’s going to allow me to tap into various skill sets that I’ve accumulated throughout my career in the industry to hopefully be … more creative than my competitor and be able to bring forward some better flavor profiles and better appearance and plating techniques.”

Roddey could have an edge in the friendly competition if he can tap into his desire to prove himself.

“I love to try to continue to hone my skill set, as well as, as a consultant to prove that I can still cook and I’m not just out there at a 30,000-foot level trying to advise people, you know, I can do it from the ground level because I’m able to still execute and I still am in touch with my craft.”

Both chefs have impressive resumes.

Roddey, among other accomplishments, has taught in the Culinary Arts & Hospitality Education field, has served as a personal chef, provided catering for TV and movie sets such as “Con Air” and the WB’s “Everwood,” and prepared a 2002 Olympic dedication party, according to his website,

Novello, a southern California native, lists among his skills on the Skillet website at cooking throughout British Columbia, opening a restaurant for Seattle Supersonics player Shawn Kemp, and has cooked for The Matador, Local 360, and Toulouse Petit.

Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Gabeletto is at 949-7030. Follow her on Twitter (@AmandaGabeletto) or on Facebook (Amanda Gabeletto Altoona Mirror).