If you’re going to put the best chefs from the best restaurants in Pittsburgh in a room — it better be a really big room.
That’s why Savor Pittsburgh, Sept. 27, is at the Petersen Events Center in Oakland. If Savor Pittsburgh was a rock concert, it’s done playing the clubs and is now playing arenas.
It’s pretty simple — restaurants compete against each other for “Dish of the Year,” (full disclosure: I’m one of the judges), and the public is invited to sample everything.
“Every year is different,” says Savor Pittsburgh’s Event Planner Christina Dickerson. “Obviously it’s a tremendous commitment from these restaurants. We’re thrilled every year when they come on board. We think we have a nice variation of local and independent restaurants participating. Some participate year after year. We also love having these new restaurants that are making their own name in the city of Pittsburgh.”
They range from old-school stalwarts like LeMont and Monterrey Bay Fish Grotto on Mt. Washington, to newcomers like Coast Main Seafood Chophouse, which just opened in Monroeville.
There are traditional steakhouses like Eddie Merlot’s, and quirky little cafes like the lunch-focused Bluebird Kitchen, Merchant Oyster Co., and Cinderlands Beer Co. There are high-end restaurants like Senti, Nemacolin Woodlands Resort and Fl.2 at the Fairmont Hotel, and taverns with elevated menus like Coughlin’s Law Tavern Ale House.
The best of the best
“They all bring their ‘A game,’” says Dickerson. “They know competition is fierce. Each culinary team is incredibly creative in what they present to the judges, which are the shame items that the guests of the events enjoy.”
The odds are high, but the payoff is “fantastic exposure,” says Dickerson. “We give tons of accolades to the restaurants and their teams.”
Not to mention, getting food into a lot of mouths that could belong to potential patrons. “We expect 1,500 people this year,” says Dickerson.
Those who show up get to vote on a People’s Choice dish. Other categories include Best Entrée, Best Dessert, and Best Appetizer.
For a good cause
Of course, they don’t do this just to see who’s the best. It’s actually a fundraiser for Magee-Women’s Research Institute.
Magee is not just the place you were probably born, if you’re from Pittsburgh. (Nearly 11,000 babies are born there every year.) It’s also the largest institute in the country dedicated only to researching women’s and infants’ health.
There are programs investigating preeclampsia, fetal growth abnormalities, preterm birth and prenatal genetics. More than 100 physician-researchers also study fertility and infertility, and women’s cancers, among many other things.
“We’ve been partners with Magee for six years,” says Dickerson. “They are the best partnership we’ve ever head. It’s an honor to continuously work with them, to bring awareness to everything they’re doing—in our region, nationally and internationally.”
“In 2017, we raised over $250,000, a record. All the proceeds go to benefit women and infant health. That’s something all of us can feel good about.”
Michael Machosky is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.