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Sharing Knives Grows into Sharing Farms

For its third season, the collaborative dinner series at Ace Hotel will celebrate the region’s growers.

photos courtesy Ace Hotel

I’ve been smitten with the Sharing Knives collaborative dinners since Whitfield’s executive chef, Bethany Zozula, started the series in early 2017. The festive meals in the gym at Ace Hotel in East Liberty have ranged from a vegan Christmas celebration with the crew from Apteka to a fabulous feast of Jamison Farm lamb cooked in collaboration with the legendary Sukey Jamison.

The series is set to return next month, with a twist — it now is called Sharing Farms.

“When we started talking about plans, I just wasn’t feeling Sharing Knives [as it was set up]. I didn’t want to do the same thing again,” Zozula says.

Sparked by conversation she’d had earlier in the year with Chris Brittenburg of Who Cooks For You Farm about the need to highlight a farm-to-table restaurant chef in Pittsburgh, Zozula decided that a path forward for the series would be to flip that and instead draw attention to the region’s farmers and growers. “A lot of chefs care about this. We all have farms and farmers that we’re attached to,” she says.

To that end, Zozula plans on throwing four Sharing Farms dinners during the 2019 growing season. The June 26 kickoff will feature Goodness Grows farm, Tiny Seed Farm and Grow Pittsburgh’s Braddock Farms. Zozula will be joined in the kitchen by Nate Hobart (Morcilla), Kevin Sousa (Superior Motors), Csilla Thackray (Legume) and Neil Blazin (Driftwood Oven).

On July 31, expect a 20th anniversary bash for Penn’s Corner Farm Alliance. The farmer-owned cooperative is a significant supplier of locally raised vegetables, meats, dairy and grains to Pittsburgh restaurants, and also operates a popular community supported agriculture program.

Zozula says that programming for the final two Sharing Farms — scheduled for Aug. 28 and Sept. 25 — is still a work in progress; look for Jamison Farms lamb in August and Jubilee Hilltop Ranch beef in September. Who Cooks For You Farm will be part of the mix, as will Paul Family Farms, Clarion River Organics, Gid’s Produce, Pucker Brush Farms and Kistaco Farm. And, diners can expect to see many of Pittsburgh’s best chefs — Derek Stevens (Union Standard), Kate Romane (Black Radish), Jamilka Borges (Independent Brewing Company), Chad Townsend (Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream), Casey Renee (Confections), Lily Tran (Soba), Ben Sloan (Alta Via), Ryan Spak (Spak Brothers), Dianne DeStefano (Lorelei), Kate Carne (Or, The Whale), Curtis Gamble (Station), Tony Giaramita (Pizza Taglio) and Justin Steel (Bar Marco) — in the kitchen for at least one dinner.

For Zozula, it’s an opportunity for her and her fellow chefs to offer some insight into the the way chefs and growers work together in Pittsburgh. “I run into farmers, and they are excited to learn what we’re going to do with what they grow. You sort of know what you’re going to get but then they’ll also surprise you [with a few new crops]. It’s a fun way to plan the menu,” she says.

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