Crate cooks up success for 40 years
Crate began as a little store above a doctor’s office on Beverly Road in Mt. Lebanon and is now a renowned cooking school and kitchenware store, celebrating its 40th anniversary.
Linda Wernikoff was a former teacher from the Chicago area when she moved to Pittsburgh in 1977. She had always loved the housewares section of stores and, capitalizing on her knowledge and interest, at first only gave small demonstrations at her small apartment store. In 1980, she moved to the St. Clair Shops, where the cooking classes began. In 1993, the store moved to its current location at 1960 Greentree Road, Scott Township (in the Greentree Road Shopping Center by the Marshall’s and Panera Bread).
In 2012, Wernikoff announced her retirement. A mother-daughter duo, Dorothy Vaccarello and Jen Clark, had attended many of Linda’s classes and joked about wanting to take over the business. They then turned serious and realized buying the store was the perfect fit for them both.
“We are grateful to be able to continue to share our passion for all things food-related with our loyal customers,” Clark said. “Time goes especially quickly when you get to do what you love every day.”
Over the 40 years, Clark estimates there have been more than 4,500 classes taught. Approximately 200 cooking classes offered annually are taught by international, national and regional chefs.
One of the most popular classes is the “Lunch & Learn” where every Wednesday, from noon to 1:30 p.m., students enjoy a sit-down class of 45 minutes of instruction and 45 minutes of lunch. The menu ranges from red cabbage kraut with apple and fennel, to butternut squash carbonara and peppermint cake with white chocolate frosting.
Other popular courses have been Indian vegetarian cuisine, cooking with beer, Tour of Napa Wine, knife skills, Thai food, sausage making, and a holiday cookie exchange.
With Food Network television shows raising continued interest in cooking, Clark is seeing trends of different cooking styles for healthy lifestyles, such as using spiralizers, of which they sell six different kinds. Additionally, she sees a rise in children becoming obsessed with all things culinary, so Crate’s children’s classes (ages 6 and older attending with an adult) and teen classes quickly sell out. The business is hosting birthday parties more than ever.
The store also offers the latest kitchen equipment and accessories. Crate is known for All-Clad Cookware sales, private events such as baby/bridal showers and parties, and team-building events for companies. Attendees of any class also get a 10 percent discount on products in the store on the day of the class.
The website, www.cratecook.com , contains an informative brochure detailing the list of classes for this fall and winter, along with merchandise and specials. Gift certificates are available for purchase as well.
Crate is open 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday and Thursday, and 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. To register for a class or get more information, visit the website or call 412-341-5700.
Charlotte Smith is a Tribune-Review contributing writer. Reach her at 724-693-9441 or [email protected] .