Chefs Compete for 'Dish of the Year' Honor

Plus a chat with Habitat chef Andrew Morrison and al-fresco dining suggestions.

>>cheftalk
Habitat’s Morrison to participate in local competition
Next week, Pittsburgh’s finest chefs will compete at Savor Pittsburgh (more on that below) for the highly coveted “Dish of the Year” honor. There’s bound to be some pretty stiff competition, but Andrew Morrison, executive chef at Habitat Restaurant, is pulling out all the punches.

“I’m very much looking forward to the competition and expect to have a lot of fun,” says Morrison. “I’ll be creating a complex dish that uses almost all local ingredients—pork from Henry Family Farms, local cucumbers, local shallots. It’s one of my personal favorites, and I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I do.”

For 20-plus years, Morrison, who’s originally from Cheshire, England, has been all over the country—including Seattle, Washington D.C. and Miami. While he was working at the Four Seasons in Atlanta, he received an opportunity to work at Habitat, located inside Fairmont Pittsburgh.

“It’s exciting to become a part of that local scene as Pittsburgh dining evolves and is recognized on the larger scale,” says Morrison, who moved here two years ago. “This region is an incredible place for chefs—the quality and volume of local ingredients is inspiring.”

And his passion for simple, fresh and flavorful ingredients really shines. The chef prides himself on his solid relationships with the local farmers and vendors, which in turn, allows him to provide diners with extra fresh and local ingredients.

Self-described as “happy and focused” in the kitchen, Morrison’s been working and learning in kitchens since he was a teenager, all without an ounce of formal training. But his dishes aren’t lacking refinement in the least—some of his favorite dishes include braised oxtail, pasta with capers and cauliflower, Copper River salmon and "anything with peas."

“I’d say that I follow a common-sense approach to cooking and food,” says Morrison. “I find the best ingredients available, use local whenever possible and present them in uncomplicated ways that highlight the natural flavors of the product.”

(Habitat Restaurant at Fairmont Pittsburgh, 510 Market St., downtown. Mon.-Thurs., 6:30 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 6:30 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m. Info: 412/773-8848, habitatrestaurant.com)
—Christine Mouser, PM Editorial Intern

>>foodevent
SouthSide Works to host sixth-annual Savor Pittsburgh
At Savor Pittsburgh, a collection of local chefs come together to share their favorite recipes in an all-out competition for the coveted “Dish of the Year” recognition. Among this year’s participants are Bistro 19, Braddock’s American Brasserie and Streetside Bar, The Capital Grille, Habitat, Spoon and McCormick & Schmick’s (who will present the event, along with SouthSide Works, to benefit the National Pancreas Foundation of Western Pennsylvania). The setting is a sprawling outdoor landscape created by elegant white canopies set up at the Works, with live music, dancing and cocktails.

(Savor Pittsburgh, 26th and Sidney streets, SouthSide Works. Thurs., Sept. 1, 6:30 p.m. $75 admission includes food, drinks and entertainment. Info: savorpgh.com; tickets: 888/718-4253)
—Kate Chynoweth, PM Food Editor, pittsburghmagazine.com/food

>>al-frescodining
Enjoy an outdoor meal while there’s still time
With summer coming to an end, so, too, is a staple of urban living during the warmer months: al-fresco dining. Despite fall bearing down on us, there is still plenty of time to enjoy a meal outdoors. Here are four places around the city that offer outdoor dining:

Pusadee’s Garden
This Thai restaurant sets itself apart by offering patrons the chance to take in a meal amidst a vine-entangled, latticework in its unique outdoor garden.

(5321 Butler St., Lawrenceville. Info: 412/781-8724, pusadeesgarden.com)

The Grandview Saloon
Offering up a variety of American cuisine and craft beer, customers at this Mt. Washington restaurant can also take in a sunset with their dinner on the saloon’s lounge deck.

(1212 Grandview Ave., Mt. Washington. Info: 412/431-1400, thegrandviewsaloon.com)

Willow
Among Willow’s unique dining options, its elegant brick-wall-lined patio is not to be overlooked. It offers diners a warm, inviting setting in which to sample the contemporary American dishes.

(634 Camp Horne Road, Ohio Township. Info: 412/847-1007, willowpgh.com)

Bocktown Beer and Grill
To add to its considerable selection of American cuisine and even more considerable array of craft beers, Bocktown also features outdoor seating on the fenced-off, gazebo-covered patio.

(690 Chauvet Drive, Robinson Township. Info: 412/788-2333, bocktown.com)

Want more al-fresco options? Check out Nightlife Editor Sean Collier’s suggested stops here.
—Rob McCoy, PM Editorial Intern

Categories: PGHeats