2012 Chef of the Year

This year, we honor the inventive Brian Pekarcik, executive chef of Spoon and BRGR Bar.

Brian Pekarcik is a perfectionist. Each day, he and his staff discuss what happened the night before at his restaurants Spoon and BRGR Bar (now with a second location in Cranberry Township), and how they can improve.  The menu at Spoon (his signature eatery) is small, with only 10 entrées, so Pekarcik, 37, views each item as an extremely valuable commodity.  When his team creates a new dish, they design it, taste it and refine it to ensure it’s better than the one it’s replacing.  As a result, Spoon is never stale, always improving and evolving.  

Pekarcik’s extremely conscious of the economy; thus, he aims for Spoon to be upscale but not pretentious, hoping to appeal to everyone.  “Chefs must challenge themselves to create dishes with a price range so that a less-expensive dish doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice quality or creativity,” he says.  This strategy has clearly paid off, since some customers eat at Spoon more than once a week (or at least alternate between Spoon and BRGR).

The success of BRGR, a high-end burger joint, has also been pleasing to Pekarcik. During many weekends, customers opt to wait 60 minutes or more just to try one of his mouthwatering creations — so he feels pressure to make sure that they’re getting the “best damn burger ever.”

Looking at his achievements, Pekarcik’s quick to credit his “tremendous” team, which includes Dave Anoia, Spoon’s chef de cuisine; Chris Davies, BRGR’s chef de cuisine as well as Spoon’s pastry chef; and his great front-of-house managers and bar staff.  Last but certainly not least to receive credit is his loving wife, Jessica, whom he calls the “glue” of the home they share with their three young children — ages 6, 4 and 4 months.

Having returned from California nearly five years ago, Pekarcik is proud to be cooking in Pittsburgh at a time when so many young chefs are opening their own restaurants. The friendship and support of his peers have inspired him and added to his Pittsburgh experience.  

134 S. Highland Ave., East Liberty • 412/362-6001, spoonpgh.com

Photo by Laura Petrilla

Watch: Pekarcik talks about his culinary influences and favorite restaurants:

Categories: Best Restaurants 2012, Food Features, Freshly Pressed, From the Magazine, Hot Reads