TasteBuds Returns for a Fourth Year

The annual fundraiser for Best Buddies will feature 30 of Pittsburgh's top chefs paired with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.


TasteBuds, one of my favorite annual dine-around events, is returning for its fourth installation on Monday, Nov. 18, at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. The event pairs well-known Pittsburgh chefs with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), who work as their sous chefs to prepare tasty bites for the evening. The chefs and buddies spend time together prior to the event, with the chefs helping the buddies learn kitchen skills. The buddies are instrumental in helping the chefs choose the dishes for the event, too.

“What better way to get two people together than to cook a meal together,” says Dan Ayer of
Field General Communications.

The event is a fundraiser for Best Buddies, the world’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to ending the social, physical and economic isolation of the 200 million people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. “I always describe this as there are so many fundraiser dinners and charitable events, but this one really demonstrates what an organization does. What we do is on full display. You’re seeing, front and center, the end result of where your dollars grow with Tastebuds,” says Ayer.

This year marks the 30th for Best Buddies. To mark the occasion, the 2019 TasteBuds Pittsburgh will be bigger than ever before, featuring 30 chef pairings, with a good number of chefs and buddies returning from previous years. This year, some of the buddies will participate in a round of storytelling about their experiences working in professional kitchens as part of a short presentation.


Best Buddies also took things a step further this year with an autumn visit to Rivendale Farms in Bulger. Daniele Brenci, Rivendale’s executive chef, led a group of buddies and their parents on a tour of the state-of-the-art farm. Buddies had the opportunity to see the farm’s award-winning Jersey dairy cows (including one born that morning), salad greens, ginger, turmeric and herbs growing in the greenhouse, Brenci’s chef’s garden and more. The hands-on experience allowed the buddies the opportunity to connect with another level of the food system.

“We’re trying to do more things to show our buddies that there is more process than just cooking the food. Let’s get our buddies out there and see where the food they are preparing comes from, says Ayer.

Tickets to TasteBuds are $125 and include heaps of delicious tastings, a limited open bar and live entertainment.


Here are this year’s pairings:
Becca Romagnoli (The Vandal) with John Mozeik
Csilla Thackray (Legume) with Kallie McCarthy
Kevin Sousa (Superior Motors) with Teresa Plunkett
Derek Stevens (Union Standard) with Tommy Kreutzer
Justin Steel (Bar Marco) with Andrew Duch
Chad Townsend (Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream) with Matthew Carroll
Kate Laskey (Apteka) with Helenka Foley
Meghann Walsh (Cioppino) with Maria Rajakovich
Nick Mineo (Sausalito Bistro) Stephen Liebrock
Jerry Winkleblech (Osteria 2350) with Kevin Loiselle
Dominique Carnovale Metcalfe (Levy Restaurants/DLLCC) with Julia Kaluzny
Alex Balint (Doce Taqueria) with Chris Carpellotti
Matt Stover (Il Pizzaiolo) with Taylor Edgar

Justin Severino (Morcilla) with Abby Molinaro
Steve Lanzilotti (Talia Cuccina) with Kate Efkeman
Jessica Lewis (Spirits & Tales) with Nicolette Fenello
Adam and Diana Kucenic (Muddy Waters) with Juliet Geniviva
Pete Tolman (Iron Born) with Dale Johnston
Jeff Maag (Eddie Merlot’s) with Chris Lofink
Scott Walton (Acorn) with Roxanne Ferraco
Niven Sabherwal (Allegheny Coffee and Tea Exchange) with Alex Novak
Phill Milton (Home) with Andy Wagner
Andrew Stump (Madeleine Bakery & Bistro) with Corradina Squiteri
Dave Anoia (DiAnoia’s Eatery) with Megan Dulski
Lino Rengifo (Nayli’s Bakery) with Olivia Diecks
Dustin Gardner (Casbah) with Kaitlyn Anderson
Daniele Brenci (Rivendale Farms) with Kaitlyn Moffitt
Lou Ickles (Brillobox) with Nathan Parsons
LJ Johnson (Luke Wholey’s Alaskan Grille) with David Wirth
Ben Richardson (Cinderlands) with Emily Zipparo

Categories: PGHeats