Why the Food Scene in “Forgotten Cities” Is As Important As Those in New York, Chicago, and L.A.

On this episode of Chef AF, our host Chef Jim Berman sits down with Chef Derek Stevens— a Steel City “burning star,” as he calls him, for shining bright in the local food scene. Stevens is the co-owner and executive chef of Pittsburgh’s Union Standard. Both gentlemen are Pittsburgh-natives and they focus their conversation around those cites that seem “forgotten” in the food world.

The two agree that as chefs they are always on the hunt for honest food. Chef Stevens is candid about his favorite Pittsburgh food spots, highlighting establishments like LeoGretta located in the Carnegie neighborhood and ran by Chef Greg Alauzen; as well as, DiAnoia’s Eatery in the Strip District and ran by Chef Dave DiAnoia.

“When I talk about those chefs… when I eat their food, I think ‘Damn, I wish I could cook like this guy’ you know?,” says Chef Stevens. “It’s really heartwarming in a way, you know? They really got it figured out. And sometimes they’re thinking the same thing [about other chefs].”

Listen to the podcast above to hear the full conversation, Chef Steven’s thoughts on the resurgence of downtown areas in cities like Detroit and Milwaukee, and how to cultivate interest for a local food scene in a “forgotten city.”


Show Notes:

  • 1:55 - Chef Derek Stevens’ Background

  • 4:07 - Favorite Pittsburgh food spots

  • 7:37 - Comfort Food vs. Fine-Dining

  • 12:47 - Cultivating Interest for local food scene

  • 17:19 - Incubators and the food scene

  • 23:13 - Labor Shortage

Hosted by:

Jim Berman

JIM BERMAN

Expert Columnist / Show Host


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Chefs Doing What They Know: Cooking for Pittsburgh

Chefs Doing What They Know: Cooking for Pittsburgh

There is no way that I could have thought my ordinary Saturday would include standing in my ordinary kitchen in eastern Maryland learning of 11 killed and 6 wounded ordinary people.

In my hometown of Pittsburgh. In my neighborhood. In my synagogue. On the anniversary of my bar mitzvah. My phone was acting as a TV as KDKA streamed scenes from Tree of Life; windows were blown out; police in full armor running up Wilkins Ave; “Names of victims not yet released…”

It is no shocker that I have tattoos of the Pittsburgh skyline and of the Pirates’ logo—with a crossed fork and knife rather than the baseball bats; I am a cook, after all.

I am forever a kid from the Steel City.

When the call came from my sister that there were shots fired in my family’s synagogue, everything changed in an instant.

Thinking back to just after the 9/11 terrorist events, a news anchor was on a local Philadelphia station explaining why he was leaving the air. “You see,” he said, “my city needs me. I am a from New York, and I have to go back,” is how I remember that.

While my phone was drilling the unfolding scene into me over and over and over, I only could feel anxious to go to my hometown, too. To do something. To go home.

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