Gretchen McKay

A (very long) run for a good cause

When Eleven Contemporary Kitchen celebrated its 10th birthday this past June, executive chef Derek Stevens went all out. The four-course tasting menu he created for the Strip District restaurant awed and amazed: Some 200 guests dined on such gourmet delights as Fede pappardelle tossed with morels, veal sweetbreads served atop lobster risotto, and blueberry tart stuffed with lime curd and cheesecake. For his own 40th birthday next month, Chef Stevens will again push himself to the limit. […]

Nestle’s Toll House teardrop chocolate morsel turns 75

Ask someone about his favorite cookie, and unless his taste runs to the exotic, the answer usually is pretty quick. Chocolate chip! Seriously: Is there any other cookie that so immediately makes you feel as warm and fuzzy? Or as desperate for seconds, or — come on, fess up — maybe even thirds? Especially if a cold […]

Meet Carol ‘Dearheart’ Pascuzzi, the ever-cheerful cheese expert of Penn Mac

Carol Pascuzzi often finds people staring at her. She’ll be standing in a line somewhere — the supermarket, perhaps, or an airport hundreds of miles from her creekside home in Turtle Creek  — when she’ll suddenly sense a stranger’s gaze. “I can tell they’re trying to place me,“ she says. Usually they can’t, if she’s sporting jeans and a sweatshirt […]

The huge Minnesota State Fair is big on decadent food creations

ST. PAUL, Minn. —  The smell washes over you in the parking lot, even before you reach the long lines that snake out in every direction at the ticket booth. The sweet, sugary aroma of cotton candy mixed with the earthy scent of manure. Weird, but also strangely appropriate. This is a state fair, after all, where horses, […]

Homeless citizens join with North Side ministry to run Pittsburgh Marathon

    A former crack addict who used to sleep in abandoned houses, Monica Craft isn’t your typical runner. In fact, she walked a lot more than she jogged when she stepped onto the track at Schenley Oval Sportsplex at Schenley Park in Oakland last week for a mid-morning workout. Clad in a corduroy jacket […]

26.2 Food: How to eat right while training

An occasional series on how to fuel for the Pittsburgh Marathon. Most serious runners will stop at nothing in the race to maximize performance. High-tech trainers that keep your feet happy while logging serious miles, the latest fitness watch or app that provides feedback in real-time, specially formulated goos and chews that promise to energize your body […]

26.2 Food: Pre-run meal before marathon training essential

                    An occasional series on how to fuel for the Pittsburgh Marathon.   Tempting as it might be to cozy up on the couch and hibernate during winter, slacking off is not an option for Pittsburgh’s Runners of Steel. Some 30,000 runners from across the U.S. and […]

Pittsburgh Pierogies: “We love you, dumpling!”

Carl Funtal has spent most of his adult life as a tough guy, protecting the public as a sergeant with the Shaler Township Police Department. Truth be told, he’s really kind of a softie. Despite his commanding appearance — at 6 feet, 3 inches (6-4 in his motorcycle boots) and 275 pounds, he dwarves most […]

Robinson “cottage” a link back to Sewickley Heights grandeur

In the 1920s and ’30s, Pittsburgh’s captains of industry built lavish summer cottages high above the Ohio River to escape the city’s smoke and summertime heat. “Cottage” was something of a misnomer; their Sewickley Heights houses were every bit as opulent as the urban dwellings of these steel, shipping, manufacturing and banking barons and their […]

Dutch oven cooking

PARK CITY, UTAH — Funny story here: When I learned there would be a Dutch-oven cooking demonstration at this year’s Association of Food Journalists conference, held last week in this mountainside ski town that’s famous for hosting the Sundance Film Festival, my immediate thought was this: Big whoop. Who doesn’t know how to cook in a Dutch oven? Like millions […]

Kinzua colors: Reborn bridge offers spectacular views of Pennsylvania fall foliage

MOUNT JEWETT, Pa. — Even before its tattered remains were reimagined as a spectacular walkway over one of Pennsylvania’s prettiest gorges, the Kinzua Viaduct was one for the history books. When it rose some 300 feet above the ground more than a century ago, the structure was the largest and longest railroad bridge in the world — higher even than […]

Find Bigfoot and more, at Jack Bell’s meat market in Kane, Pa.

KANE, Pa. — Mom-and-pop butcher shops usually are pretty friendly places, but not always the cutest businesses on the block. Not so with Bell’s Meat & Poultry, Jack Bell’s tiny market here in the heart of Allegheny National Forest. It’s tough to say what’s more Instagram-tastic about the McKean County meaterie: the baskets of local produce stacked outside the front door that […]