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


Expert Columnist / Show Host


Motor City Seafood Contributes to Detroit's Culinary Renaissance

Motor City Seafood Contributes to Detroit's Culinary Renaissance

Detroit has been through a lot, but it is gracefully coming back as a world-class city.

One way to confirm this is through the city’s growing culinary offerings. For example, high-quality seafood.

Although, chefs “get most of the glory when it comes to dining… a chef is only as good as their vendors,” as pointed out by “Detroit Metro Times” reporter Tom Perkins.

Perkins was referring to Matthew Wiseman, in particular, co-owner of Motor City Seafood.

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Taco Bell's Urban Store Plans and Latest Menu Items

Latest news about Taco Bell are proving the brand’s tagline, ‘Think Outside The Bun,’ still fuels corporate’s decisions. The Tex-Mex QSR chain is breaking its mold by shaking off drive-thrus and adding alcohol to their future locations, in their latest push to expand into urban areas.

According to “Business Insider,” the company that brought to you the Naked Chicken Chips and, most recently, the Naked Egg Taco, had been testing its Taco Bell Cantina concept in seven locations and was slated to open four more by the end of 2017.

Now, they are expecting to open 300 to 350 “cantina-style” stores by 2022.

According to “Food & Wine,” the brand is “zeroing in on big cities like Detroit, Pittsburgh, Boston, and New York (including a plan to open at least 50 locations around the city’s five boroughs.” Each store will be somewhat unique with designs aligning with the local city culture, while featuring digital menu boards and open kitchens.

Taco Bell is known to push the envelope with its menu offerings. Take, for instance, the forbidden bowl and burrito, featuring forbidden rice, being tested in their Irvine location. According to “Thrillist,” a spokesperson told them “No other [fast food restaurant] has tested a black rice product like this." Claiming to be the first to test a dish with a grain product only eaten by royalty in ancient China, hence the name— ‘forbidden.’

That’s why it comes at no surprise that the chain will finally offer boozy drinks like beer, wine, sangria and Twisted Freezes with tequila, rum or vodka at their new urban, cantina-style stores. 

In their Las Vegas flagship location, for example, Spring Valley visitors continue to post pictures with their favorite spiked slush.

I came to Vegas just to get a bacardi baja blast

A post shared by Ava Lavalle (@avalavalle) on

I think I speak for everyone when I say: It was time, T-Bell! It was time...

Detroit Pop-Up Social Event Leads to Permanent Restaurant

What started as a Detroit networking event co-founded by Jay Rayford and Grace Montero and promoted over social media has led to plans for a permanent restaurant — and could be the latest in a social and food trend.

Originally a pop-up, or as Rayford describes it to The Detroit News, a “social catering experience,” Social Sushi Detroit became a weekly event combining food and social networks where attendees enjoyed Detroit-inspired sushi.

“Once we saw how people were coming together and how people loved it, we were like, ‘Man let’s get this thing going,’” Rayford told The Detroit News. “(We had) no thought about opening a restaurant one day, no thought about ‘Hey, let’s do this for four years.’”

But it is four years old and there are plans to expand Sushi Detroit into a full-time restaurant expected to open this summer. Read more

Rising Star: Detroit Baker Builds Successful Business

Rising Star: Detroit Baker Builds Successful Business

By Dorothy Hernandez, Foodable Contributor

Black pepper grapefruit meringue. Rhubarb rosemary streusel. Salted maple. These aren’t your typical pie flavors, but then again Sister Pie in Detroit is no ordinary bakery.

Owner Lisa Ludwinski was living in Brooklyn and working at Momofuku Milk Bar when she decided to go for David Chang’s scholarship program, which offered funding for externships around the country. But instead of jetting off for glamorous parts unknown, Ludwinski, a theater major in college, knew she wanted to return home to Michigan to learn the art of bread making. 

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