Nelson Starr and The Benjamins

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New website

Hello, It’s time to start fresh! We just underwent a major overhaul to the website. Everything should be up and running now. Unfortunately, we not able to transfer all of the comments that had been made in the old posts.

Please be patient while I fix any remaining problems. And, if you find something isn’t working, please leave a comment! Thank you!


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Christmas Time Is Here

Just a little something that was recorded after the Thanksgiving meal. Enjoy!

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Anthony Bourdain’s Medium Raw Challenge

After getting as close as it gets to winning the No Reservation FANatic Contest in 2008, it’d be silly to think that lightning can strike twice – right?

Or can it?

Along comes Anthony Bourdain’s Medium Raw Challenge: Essay Contest.

We’ll see how it goes, but I did enter by writing an essay that you can read at:

I hope you dig it! If you do…

Please vote and and leave a comment at the site. You can vote once a day! I’d really appreciate thoughtful comments – or even share your experiences and thoughts. Who knows, maybe the tall man himself might weigh in!?

Thank you for your interest and support. And I hope you enjoy my essay, The Mark Inside.

~ Nelson

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Bourdain finds a ‘masterpiece’ in Buffalo

Some early press on the episode of No Reservations with Tony and I in Buffalo.

Bourdain says of Nelson Starr: “Now that James Brown is dead, (Starr) is the hardest working man in show business.”

In the 15-minute Buffalo segment, there is time for a little snowmobiling, to hear Starr perform and for a little fun with Zamir, who serves as comic relief. And in the end, Bourdain gives Buffalo his seal of approval, praising its “nice” and “cool” people.

Read the full article below!

Anthony Bourdain and Nelson Starr

‘No Reservations’about beef on weck
By Alan Pergament
Buffalo News TV Critic
July 23, 2009

The cable TV menu is so varied and so full that there is a good chance most Western New Yorkers never have sat down to watch an episode of the Travel Channel series “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations.”

But Bourdain’s acerbic, salty style should get many new local viewers at 10 p. m. Monday when he airs a Rust Belt episode that features his visits to the beleaguered cities of Baltimore, Detroit and Buffalo.

If you’re not a regular, be warned: Parental discretion is advised. And it isn’t entirely Chamber of Commerce material. That’s really part of the fun.

Bourdain’s series is a tasty delight that combines terrific writing, cynical narration, dry humor, flavorful characters and varied food choices from around the world.

If you’re a Buffalonian, you might say Bourdain saves the best for last on Monday. Our town and its specialties of beef on weck and chicken wings are served in the third and final segment of the hour.

“Buffalo is so much more than chicken wings and Rick James, isn’t it?” narrates Bourdain.

And then there is this Bourdain nugget: “There is a perverse joy of being alive and living in Buffalo even in the coldest part of winter at night in what I call a blizzard.”

Bourdain cleverly words his explanation of Buffalo’s appeal as he enters Ulrich’s Tavern. “Experience the basic, delightful duality of the Buffalo experience — cold and harsh outside, warm and hospitable inside.”

Bourdain said he made Buffalo the final stop in January because the entire Rust Belt show was inspired by local musician Nelson Starr, who convinced him to come here after becoming the runner-up (isn’t that so Buffalo?) in a contest that had a first prize of a Bourdain visit.

To enter the contest, people made videos pitching their communities as fitting destinations for Bourdain to film a show. Starr, with filmmaker John Paget, created a video in which he asked Bourdain to “come to the Blizzard Capital of the World” and featured local culinary favorites at various restaurants like Ted’s Hot Dogs and the Anchor Bar.

Bourdain being Bourdain, he couldn’t help but remark about Buffalo’s economic “fall from grace,” which is highlighted by video of some of the area’s blight.

But he balances that negativity by adding, “What is surprising to me is how much of its former glory still stands. I wasn’t expecting to see so many architectural treasures.”

The host isn’t quite as impressed by chicken wings as he is by beef on weck, which he refers to as “a tasty little masterpiece.”

He and his Russian buddy, Zamir, sample the masterpiece at a local restaurant, Schwabl’s, that Bourdain said “most people here agree” has the best beef on weck in the area. I can almost hear the beefs from fans of Charlie the Butcher’s and other restaurants. But you can’t argue about Schwabl’s having a better ambience for a TV show.

Not one to avoid hyperbole, Bourdain says of Starr: “Now that James Brown is dead, (Starr) is the hardest working man in show business.”

In the 15-minute Buffalo segment, there is time for a little snowmobiling, to hear Starr perform and for a little fun with Zamir, who serves as comic relief. And in the end, Bourdain gives Buffalo his seal of approval, praising its “nice” and “cool” people.

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ARTVOICE: Reporting from Taste of Buffalo, sodden and sated

Watch the video and read the story!

Smoke Gets in His Eyes
by Nelson Starr
(printed in ARTVOICE)

“Welcome to the 26th annual Taste of Buffalo,” or so the line was supposed to read. If only the rain would let us shoot! When you are hired to capture the essence of Western New York and its food scene, you really don’t want clouds, rain, and lightning bolts in the shot.

On Saturday, July 11, 2009 the crew, and the rest of the Buffalo culinary crowd, was engaged in a battle the likes of which Iron Chef Morimoto has never had to contend—a battle with the natural elements (of the meteorological, rather than metallic, kind). I was to be a judge for the Taste of Buffalo. As well, I was to trudge my ever-so-talented film crew around to capture the event: its diverse epicurean delights, the people, and the entire scene in and around Niagara Square. On top of all that, the big mission was to shoot the opening sequence for a flagship food tourism video for the Buffalo Niagara Convention and Visitors Bureau.

If the sky was a harbinger of anything, it was looking as if that mission might need to be aborted.

With cameras in tow, the team marched forward anyway—I had judging to do, after all. Facilitating my endeavor was Denise Drews, who loaned me an umbrella (which we predictably lost) and helped to point my mega-confused self in the right direction. My assignment was to select six (or more if I wanted) restaurants and to taste all their offerings. I then would give them a grade, 1-10. I would also review some wines if I could—and, again, film the whole thing for our network, as well as for Artvoice TV.

Things started out just fine with some excellent ribs and other smoky selections (including excellent smoke-infused red potatoes) at Donnie’s Smokehouse. I’d have to say that ’09 was a great year for barbecue and grilled meats—everything from smoked pulled pork to turkey legs—featuring 10 or more places with smokers on-site. It was a great fit for the festival, considering it’s summer, and grilled and smoked meats are a seasonal must-have! Okay, so maybe it wasn’t the best breakfast but, hey, isn’t that what a rock-and-roll food critic should eat for breakfast? That and a beer and cigarette!

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Tony Bourdain and Me …in Buffalo! Segment to air in July on Travel Channel

We’ll be organizing a premiere party… details to follow.
JULY 27, set your DVR to record!

This story was in the Buffalo News earlier today

Bourdain’s Buffalo segment to air in July on Travel Channel

By Alan Pergament

Travel Channel host Anthony Bourdain’s visit to Western New York to sample the culinary delights here now has an air date.
According to the July programming highlights released by the cable network Friday, Buffalo will be included in a July 27 program that also includes stops in Baltimore and Detroit.

Here’s how the network summarizes the episode of Bourdain’s Emmy-nominated series, “No Reservations”: “During the dreary and bleak days of winter, Tony visits Baltimore, Detroit and Buffalo. With his always adventurous sidekick Zamir, Tony samples crab cakes in Baltimore, has a crash-course in Detroit’s pastime, Featherbowling, and meets up with FANatic Nelson Starr to try Buffalo’s signature dish, the beef on weck. Through his travels, Tony learns that these iconic cities have more to offer than just their factories and unique atmospheres. These three cities also hold great people, interesting cultures and amazing food.”

Starr is a local musician who, with filmmaker John Paget, created a three-minute video for a Travel Channel contest in which the prize was a Bourdain visit to the city of the winning entry. Starr was a finalist, which led Bourdain to promise he would eventually come here.

Bourdain, who made good on his promise and reportedly visited Ulrich’s Tavern when he was here, was quoted in January as saying he likes Buffalo.

“Now I see it as a very distinct personality, a very distinct culture with its own architecture, it’s own kinda feel,” he said. “It’s actually a weirdly wonderful place. Even in winter. I think it took me traveling the world to get to that point.”
The fifth season premiere of “No Reservations” is set in Chile and airs at 10 p. m. July 13. The Buffalo episode appears two weeks later.

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“A Buffalo Love Story”, Part 1 of 2

Make sure you visit for the full episode

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Western New York is camera ready for Internet audiences [Buffalo News]

Huge article in Buffalo News on our show and website

Bill Wippert / Buffalo News

03/08/09 10:13 AM

Western New York is camera ready for Internet audiences

By Andrew Z. Galarneau
News Staff Reporter

Tim Tielman is used to being ignored. He’s spent 20 years preaching the virtues of saving empty old buildings in a city with more than its share. “It’s been difficult all these years to convey why a given building is beautiful, or why it should be saved,” said Tielman. “These are concepts that make people’s eyes glaze over.”

The answer, strangely enough, might be Internet television, said Tielman, of the Campaign for Greater Buffalo.

On Tielman’s show “Adventures in Buffaloland,” hosted on the Web site, the preservationist explains subjects like what the Guaranty Building and St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral can teach you about American architecture.

Showing the viewers archways and other details while Tielman talks, the shows deliver a five-minute dose of insight and banter that avoids information coma, he said. “Infotainment is a derogatory term, but if you don’t convey information in a stimulating or entertaining way, people will not retain it,” he said. “Video can do that.”

Lambasted as an anti-intellectual medium that turns children’s minds to porridge, television’s power to captivate has been reclaimed by Western New Yorkers in home-grown shows for Internet and public access cable audiences. Videos on local newspaper and other media Web sites, as well as talented amateurs and moonlighting professionals, are drawing national attention to Buffalo, helping citizens understand its architectural gems, and to fostering the region’s sense of neighborliness.

In January, television star Anthony Bourdain became the latest to be lured to Buffalo by the power of home-grown television.

With Kenmore musician Nelson Starr in front of the lens, Buffalo documentary filmmaker John Paget crafted a Queen City take on Bourdain’s “No Reservations” franchise. Sardonic asides from Starr, sizzling plates of scrumptious-looking food, and slick editing made an impact in a Travel Channel contest to lure Bourdain and his camera crew.

Starr and Paget’s entry drew more viewers than other contestants, before losing to a Saudi Arabian entry.

But Bourdain still came, as part of a three-city Rust Belt show, landing at Ulrich’s Tavern amid a sea of gawkers.

The momentum led Paget to create, an online channel featuring video podcasts and episodic documentaries for and about Buffalo. His site hosts the food videos made with Starr, Tielman’s preservation primers and other shows to come.

All of which hasn’t made Starr and Paget any money, exactly, unless you count free drinks. Still, when fans are calling for you to be awarded the keys to the city, that couldn’t hurt.

It’s certainly given Starr instant credibility for his online food show, “All-Access Pass,” which dedicated its second, pre-Valentine’s Day episode to the glories of chocolate.

On a frigid February morning, Paget, director of “Alcatraz Reunion” and commercial filmmaker, had arrived at Chow Chocolat early. The Main Street “chocolaterie” had two men playing chess and a handful of chocolate sippers.

“Our point is to try to entertain people,” Paget said. “Beyond that, we want to push people in Buffalo to explore some new, cutting-edge stuff, and sort of reward the people that are doing cool stuff with the publicity our show can give them.”

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All Access Pass in the Buffalo News: UPDATED!!!!

Local musician still wooing celebrity chef

By Toni Ruberto

Nelson Starr is used to having an all-access pass that allows him to go backstage at rock concerts. Now the Buffalo musician is offering others an all-access pass that goes behind the scenes of area restaurants for “a fresh take on Buffalo food and dining” in a new online series.

The series is a spin-off of Starr’s bid to bring the Travel Channel series “Anthony Bourdain — No Reservations” to Buffalo through a contest sponsored by the network. In it, Starr and filmmaker John Paget created a three-minute video touting the culinary delights of Buffalo in the hopes that Bourdain would come to Western New York with his show.

Starr ended up as the runner- up in the contest. Bourdain, however, did promise to come here eventually, and though it hasn’t been confirmed by the network, many sources are reporting that a “special guest” who has a television show is scheduled to appear, camera crew in tow, at a Starr concert being held at 7 p. m. Sunday in Nietzsche’s, 248 Allen St.

Meanwhile, “All Access Pass with Nelson Starr” premieres Friday at “I’ve developed a fascination and appreciation for great food,” says Starr, a composer, musician and author who is a member of the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame. “I think there’s some great food here in Buffalo and the Western New York area.

“We want to do a food show that rocks. Instead of your usual food reviews, which are great, we wanted to do something a little more edgy and fun.”

For the contest, Starr and Paget included Anchor Bar wings, an Ulrichs fish fry and Ted’s charbroiled hot dogs.

“Getting on the Travel Channel was inspiring,” Starr says. “We’ve had so many people ask us to do our own show and we decided we had a pretty good team to do that.” In the first episode, Starr visits Bistro Europa, followed by a trip to Oliver’s. Starr has composed music for the series and said there will also be performances on the show, such as one with the George Jones Trio from Oliver’s.

After the contest ended, Bourdain wrote on his official blog that he would visit Buffalo. “We will, on some snowy winter day, shoot at least part of a show in Buffalo,” he wrote. “And Nelson Starr shall surely be our guide.”


The media has been trying every which way to break this story – which is their job. BUT, FOR THE RECORD, I NEITHER CONFIRM NOR DENY that Anthony Bourdain and his show are coming at any specific time to Buffalo. I’ve been telling press people for days now that these rumors are not necessarily true – and may be…just rumors!?

But, the press being the press, is running with it as some sort of near fact. Well, not according to me!! We’ll just have to see what transpires here. His blog is not very specific, now is it!!??

But DO come to Nietsche’s for my performance because…you want to hear some cool music. And, this Friday, you gotta go to to see our new show!! Those items I can confirm!!

Nelson “my lips are sealed” Starr

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