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Mash Files: Pittsburgh 2014

I never thought I would say this, but Pittsburgh really has this Philly boy over the moon with its incredible culinary scene.

Our first Pittsburgh Mash was great, but this year was bonkers, bubbly, fermented, and delicious. There is a magic strip in this town of many bridges, winding rivers, and Steelers fans that, for me, symbolizes the positive growth of Pittsburgh’s culinary scene.

There are tons of great spots in Pittsburgh like Richard DeShantz and Tolga Sedvik’s restaurants e2, Legume, root174, and Acacia, just to name a few. Some of the best can all be found at the end of Butler Street - Cure Restaurant, Wild Purveyors, Allegheny Wine Mixer, Pusadee’s Garden, and the studio of food photographer Adam Milliron are all neighbors in this little corner of Pittsburgh. I could have spent my whole trip on this end of Butler Street gorging myself on house-made charcuterie, drinking great wine and beer, slurping authentic Thai noodles, gazing at Adam’s photographs, and talking foraging and fermentation with my buddies at Wild Purveyors.

I spent hours with Cavan Patterson and his team at Wild Purveyors tasting various spoonfuls of shrubs, fermented mushrooms, foraged mushroom-infused salts, and other delicacies hidden in the outlying lands around Pittsburgh. Cavan’s fervor for the finer, foraged things in life and how they can be transformed and enhanced through natural processes reminds me of the energy surrounding the pursuits at  Kaizen Trading Co at the Momofuku Test Lab here in New York City. Needless to say, my larder is full of fine delectables that may make their way onto the tables at our Dinner Party events soon to start this month, courtesy of our fine friends in Pittsburgh.

I had the pleasure of cooking with Justin Severino of Cure and Kate Romane of e2 for two great events. As always, I was blown away by these two and the flavors they coax out of ingredients. Both of these from-scratch chefs have an amazing ability to highlight local ingredients in new and inventive ways while still holding fast to tradition. Justin Severino, charcuterie master and funnier doppelganger of comedian David Cross, is one of my culinary heroes. His sous chef Nate is one of the young stars to watch out for in the next few years. I was lucky enough to hang out in the Cure kitchen throughout the week, and I can only hope that some of their genius and comical approach to life and food rubs off on me.

If not, I’ll have to roll my way down Butler Street in the hope that some of the magic of Pittsburgh sticks.

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