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Chef's Poll 2017: Pittsburgh Chefs Speak Up

This year we asked the chefs who appear on Pittsburgh Magazine’s Best Restaurants lists to answer seven questions; we received responses from 24 chefs. As was the case for our chefs’ polls in the previous two years, responses varied widely.




photo by laura petrilla

 

This year, we asked chefs to name their choice for Pittsburgh’s Rising Star chef. It’s fair to say that there’s a bright future for the city: Kate Lasky and Tomasz Skowronski of Apteka received the most votes, with three. Nate Hobart, Bethany Zozula, Dave Anoia and Danielle Felix each received two votes, while nine other chefs (plus “a big wave of chefs”) each received one vote. Chengdu Gourmet is the kitchen in which most of the chefs said they wanted to work in for a day; Cure, Chaya, Pizza Taglio, Apteka and Gaucho Parrilla Argentina each have fans in two chefs who would like to visit their kitchens.

With another year, we have another round of chefs calling for expanded offerings of international cuisine and vegetable-driven food. Our chefs also say they need more … chefs.

They love working with a variety of ingredients (aside from two who mentioned tomatoes, there was no overlap in their favorite ingredient of the year). they are done with “tweezer” food, over-complicated dishes and plates with large hunks of meat in the center. 

Although one chef called for the end of the “local/sustainable” food movement, the vast majority of Pittsburgh chefs are enthusiastic in their support for the region’s farmers and ranchers. Who Cooks For You? Farm was the runaway star, with six votes; Churchview Farm received three votes, Root & Heart Farm, John Jameson and Tiny Seeds Farm each received two votes, and 14 purveyors each got one vote.
 

Who is your choice for rising star chef?

✔ Kate Lasky & Tomasz Skowronski (3)
✔ Nate Hobart (2)
✔ Bethany Zozula (2)
✔ Dave Anoia (2)
✔ Danielle Felix (2)
✔ Neil Blazin
✔ Andrew Garbarino
✔ Mr. Cenup (Ephesus Pizza)
✔ Onion Maiden chefs
✔ Jamilka Borges
✔ Curtis Gamble
✔ Brent Peyton
✔ Dustin Gardner
✔ Casey Renee
✔ Justin Lubecki
✔ there is a big wave of chefs putting their stamp on the city
 

In what restaurant (not your own) would you most like to work in for a day?

✔ Chengdu Gourmet (3)
✔ Cure (2)
✔ Chaya (2)
✔ Pizza Taglio (2)
✔ Apteka (2)
✔ Gaucho Parrilla Argentina (2)
✔ Union Standard
✔ Burgh’ers
✔ Vivo
✔ Nicky’s Thai Kitchen
✔ Capital Grill
✔ Nemacolin Woodlands Resort
✔ La Gourmandine
✔ Station
✔ Hyeholde
✔ Dinette
✔ pastry kitchen at Ace Hotel
 

What other city or region do you most want to visit for culinary inspiration?

✔ Mexico City (2)
✔ Los Angeles (2)
✔ San Francisco
✔ Portland, Oregon
✔ Portland, Maine
✔ Istanbul    
✔ Naples
✔ Ho Chi Minh City
✔ Montreal
✔ San Gimignano
✔ Reykjavik
✔ Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan)
✔ Washington, D.C.
✔ Lima    
✔ Asheville, N.C.
✔ Pakistan    
✔ India
✔ Dubai    
✔ Buenos Aires
✔ Barcelona    
✔ Tokyo
✔ Paris    
✔ Bilbao
✔ Raleigh  
✔  Chicago
 

What was your favorite ingredient to work with this year?

✔ Heirloom hot peppers
✔ Jerusalem artichokes
✔ Gustarosso San Marzano tomatoes
✔ Sun Noodle products
✔ Anson Mills flours and grains
✔ pork    
✔ ramps
✔ Weatherbury Farm flours and grains
✔ foraged puffball mushrooms
✔ rice    
✔ cumin
✔ high-fat butter
✔ fresh Greek mint
✔ fermented chilies
✔ chicken
✔ Kaffir lime leaves
✔ Who Cooks For You? Farm tomatoes
✔ Osetra caviar    
✔ carrots
✔ tomato (Best season in a long time)
✔ sweet potatoes
✔ foie gras    
✔ dijon mustard
✔ kefir cultures
 

What would you like to see in Pittsburgh food next year?

✔ more casual dining with good food (2)
✔ more cooks (2)
✔ Small butcher shops
✔ a great Italian bakery focused on the breads and pastries of Italy
✔ even more adventurous eaters
✔ more high-quality sushi
✔ more tacos
✔ more restaurants with a “true identity”
✔ more vegetable-driven food that makes you feel good after eating it
✔ more food spots from our immigrant populations
✔ more diversity in cuisine
✔ Chinese barbeque
✔ more camaraderie in the chef community
✔ more halal and kosher items
✔ late-night lounge
✔ non-dairy as a viable option
✔ more pastry chefs
✔ hardcore vegan-east Asian cuisine with a bar
✔ consistency
✔ more non-Western dining options
✔ Chengdu Gourmet gets a Michelin star
✔ restaurants using good-quality ingredients across the menu
 

Who is your favorite farmer or produce supplier? 

✔ Who Cooks For You? Farm (6)
✔ Churchview Farm (3)
✔ Root & Heart Farm (2)
✔ John Jameson (2)
✔ Todd Wilson (Tiny Seeds Farm) (2)
✔ John Scott (Clarion Beef Farm)
✔ Restaurant Depot
✔ Penn’s Corner Farm Alliance
✔ Three River Food Company
✔ Serenity Hill Farm
✔ George Weary (lamb farmer)
✔ “Farmer John”
✔ Anthony’s Original
✔ Paragon
✔ McConnell’s
✔ Jubilee Hilltop Ranch
✔ Footprints Farm
✔ The Chef’s Garden
✔ Wild Purveyors 
 

What culinary trend should we do away with?

✔ Smearing sauces onto plate edges
✔ “tweezer” food
✔ [The idea that] more is better — sometimes more is just gross
✔ truffle oil    
✔ foam
✔ Negroni variations
✔ local/sustainable
✔ using fat as flavor
✔ meat-centric food
✔ meat    
✔ hotdogs
✔ over-complication of dishes
✔ squid ink    
✔ mason jars
✔ micro anything on everything
✔ oysters in Pittsburgh
✔ tapas    
✔ bone marrow
✔ fusion everything
✔ long beards in the kitchen
✔ desserts that get things poured over them and melt
✔ not everyone has their own twist on what they envision 
 

RESPONDENTS

Eli Wahl (Eleven)
Chris Bonfili (Avenue B)
Sonja Finn (Dinette)
Ron Molinaro (Il Pizzaiolo)
Lily Tran (Soba)
Justin Steel (Bar Marco)
Justin Severino (Cure/Morcilla)
Joseph Tambellini (Joseph Tambellini)
Stephen Felder (Stagioni)
Kate Lasky and Tomasz Skowronski (Apteka)
Jamilka Borges (Spoon)
Wei Zhu (Chengdu Gourmet)
Patrick Kaderka (Bruneaux)
Abdullah Salem (Salem’s)
Sam DiBattista (Vivo)
Anthony Falcon (Gaucho)
Casey Renee (Whitfield)
Omar Abuhejlah (B52)
Dave DeVoss (Cocothé)
Brent Young (Whitfield)
Bill Fuller (big Burrito)
Kristin A. Butterworth (Lautrec)
Andrew Garbarino (Twisted Frenchman)
Trevett Hooper (Legume)
 

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2017 Best Restaurants

Best Restaurants 2017

Best Restaurants 2017

This year Pittsburgh Magazine's independent Restaurant Review Panel recognizes 34 establishments as our regions's top restaurants. Our list includes All Arounders, Killer Casual, Fancy Night Out, Best Budget and Classic Comfort establishments.
Pittsburgh Chef of the Year: Bill Fuller

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Bill Fuller’s portfolio includes overseeing five specialty restaurants — Eleven Contemporary Kitchen, Casbah Mediterranean Kitchen and Wine Bar, Soba, umi and Kaya — as well as 14 fast-casual Mad Mex restaurants and a full-service catering operation. Even in an increasingly competitive environment, his restaurants remain in-demand and relevant.
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Apteka, operated by Kate Lasky and Tomasz Skowronski, is a vegan eatery that draws on Lasky’s sixth-generation Pittsburgh roots and Skowronski’s Polish heritage.
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Renovation of the Sewickley restaurant — completed in August 2016 — took about two months from start to finish.
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This year we asked the chefs who appear on Pittsburgh Magazine’s Best Restaurants lists to answer seven questions; we received responses from 24 chefs. As was the case for our chefs’ polls in the previous two years, responses varied widely.
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Best Restaurants Back Issues

Best Restaurants 2016

Best Restaurants 2016

Which 33 Pittsburgh-area establishments did our independent Restaurant Review Panel include among its top picks this year? Find them here.
Best Restaurants 2015

Best Restaurants 2015

Which 33 establishments did our independent Restaurant Review Panel include among its top picks this year? Find them here.
Best Restaurants 2014

Best Restaurants 2014

Presenting 33 top-notch eateries that are revolutionizing Pittsburgh's food scene.
Best Restaurants 2013

Best Restaurants 2013

Presenting 34 of the finest, freshest and most forward-thinking restaurants in Pittsburgh. Bon appetit!
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Amazon Includes Pittsburgh in its Top-20 List for HQ2

The list of 20 was narrowed from 238 proposals Amazon received in October. So which other cities made the cut?

New series ‘$1’ to be filmed in Pittsburgh

The mystery thriller is latest to cash in on the city’s filming opportunities.

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It's hard to overemphasize McCutchen's impact on the Pirates and its fan base.

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Ben Roethlisberger will do as many former athletes have and start the next phase of his career with a dining venture.

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There is now science to challenge the popular notion that men are wimps when sidelined by a cold.

High Praise - The Three Steelers Added to the Fight Song

The writers of one of the most familiar Steelers fight songs has updated the lyrics to include the teams newest stars.
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