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


Former Snyder's CEO Leads New Milwaukee Private Equity Firm

Former Snyder's CEO Leads New Milwaukee Private Equity Firm

Three Milwaukee executives have joined with seasoned food industry leader Carl E. Lee to form a new private equity firm dedicated to investing in food startups according to Milwaukee Business News.

Arbel Growth Partners was established in February by co-founders Adam Peck, Scott Lurie, and Eric Lenzen. Lee, the former president and CEO of Snyder’s-Lance Inc. (maker of snack foods Snyder’s of Hanover, Cape Cod and Pop Secret) will serve as the CEO of the investment firm.

Peck is also founder and chief investment officer at Milwaukee investment advisory firm Riverwater Partners LLC. Scott Lurie is founder and president of restaurant and catering business operator F Street Group and lender Milwaukee Hard Money. Eric Lenzen is a mergers and acquisitions attorney at the Milwaukee office of Husch Blackwell LLP and an experienced private equity and venture investor.

The group came together after raising and investing $10 million to buy a 51 percent stake in Sky Valley Foods LLC, a Virginia organic food manufacturer with Milwaukee roots in the fall.

Arbel is currently raising its first fund, which has a range of $10 million to $50 million. According to a recent SEC filing, $1.85 million has been raised from six investors since the fund was launched Feb. 16. 

The firm that has received an undisclosed investment is Glendale, California-based Alpha Foods. 

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