Honoring Women Chefs in Pittsburgh

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we spotlight the remarkable talents of women chefs shaping the culinary community in and around Pittsburgh. Woven into the city’s iconic bridges and bustling neighborhoods is a vibrant scene enriched by the creativity and innovation of female culinary artisans. At the helm of cozy cafes and upscale eateries alike, these visionary chefs are not only crafting delectable dishes but also a new, unique perspective. Through their fierce passion for flavors, dedication to craftsmanship, and commitment to excellence, these women are leaving an incredible mark on Pittsburgh’s restaurant scene and beyond. Join us as we celebrate the creations of just a few of Pittsburgh’s trailblazing restaurant professionals, whose contributions embody the spirit of empowerment that characterizes Women’s History Month.

Jamilka Borges and Dianne DeStefano at Lilith

Who’s ready for some Sicilian and Puerto Rican home cooking? Chefs Jamilka Borges and Dianne DeStefano came together to create the restaurant Lilith. It’s an homage to their cultural heritage and a place for the two to experiment with blending their different styles. Stop in to try their signature coastal cuisine like their Swordfish with clams, lemongrass and taro root. We recently enjoyed their ceviche appetizer. It is divine, too.

Ginger Fisher Baldwin at Balvanera

One of the latest additions to the Strip District Terminal is Argentinian restaurant Balvanera. After you’ve devoured one of their incredible steaks, you won’t want to miss dessert from Pastry Chef Ginger Fisher Baldwin. Whether you wish to try a classic Flan or switch things up with her Dark Chocolate Nemesis Cake, it’s all made with love. 

Jen Urich at Farmer x Baker

Farmer x Baker is all about local and organic ingredients that make astounding dishes. This is thanks to owner Chef Jen Urich who also owns Root and Heart Farm. Check out their gluten free and vegan options that allow everyone to enjoy something hearty and delicious. Plus, you won’t want to miss their new Sunday Brunch Menu featuring Spicy Eggplant, Veggie Beast, and other bagel sandwiches. Read a lovely article about her favorite winter foods here.

Rebecca Romagnoli at Forma Pasta

Fresh, handmade pasta may be one of the best dishes for a weeknight meal. If you’re craving that tender, flavorful bite, Owner and Chef Rebecca Romagnoli has just the plate for you. All the pasta you see either in the Forma Pasta marketplace or restaurant is made in-house. Sit down to a meal of Gnocchi with hot sausage cream, peppers, basil, and chili oil or grab a bundle of fettuccine to make at home.

Jen Saffron at Sprezzatura

Sit down to a family meal from the solar powered kitchen at Sprezzatura that keeps both sustainability and farm-sourced Italian home cooking eating in mind. Dine on traditional Spaghetti and Meatballs, delight in the cheesiness of Stuffed Shells, and know you’re tasting organic, local fare that’s been sustainably sourced.

Selina Progar at Eleven

Have you ever ordered a chocolate bar for dessert? Well you’re about to because Pastry Chef Selina Progar at Eleven is a master with chocolate. For her signature Chocolate Bar, she uses chocolate nougat, roasted peanuts, cracker jacks, chocolate mousse, caramel, dolce ganache, cocoa nib tuile, and roasted peanut gianduja. It’s an elegant take on your favorite guilty pleasure and the perfect way to finish Eleven’s seasonal menu. Read all about the seven chocolate recipes she made for TABLE with one giant chocolate bar! 

Rachel Sinagra at the bar at Fig and Ash

General Manager and Beverage Director Rachel Sinagra works to match seasonal flavors with the best spirits available to create killer cocktails. She uses unusual ingredients like green goddess syrup, pickled grapefruit, and cardamom oil for unique, sophisticated combinations. If you’re ready to get into the spring season, try the A Berry Unmerry Birthday. It’s a balance of Bourbon, Pimm’s No. 1 Liqueur, wild berry tea, elderflower syrup, and lemon deliciousness. Or perhaps you’ll be very lucky and her Beauty School Dropout Negroni will be on the menu! We love that one.

Kate Romane at Black Radish Kitchen

Chef Kate Romane at Black Radish Kitchen wants to make sure that your next event has veggie forward, specially crafted dishes. Plan a pasta party that features homemade Orecchiette Lemon Alfredo. Or, make sure there’s a big bowl of Roasted Veggies available at your next gathering. And of course, we can’t forget their varieties of fresh baked bread like Roasted Onion and Fennel Focaccia. We really enjoy getting a party started with her party-sized Crab Cakes.

Casey Renee at Confections by Casey Renee

Two-time James Beard Semifinalist Pastry Chef Casey Renee has more than a few tricks up her sleeve when it comes to her delicious confections. Not only are her flavors packed with a punch, but the aesthetics of her designs feed the eyes as much as they do the mouth. Create a cake for your next birthday party with your selection of cake flavor, buttercream, and filling. Or, pick up a selection of her chocolate and cake truffles. We are partial to her cookies, too!

Jackie Page at Jackie Kennedy Catering

Southern-style home cooking finds a true champion in Chef Jackie Page. Her secret ingredient? Lots of passion and love inspired by her family and beyond. One bite of her Fried Chicken or her Ravioli with Sautéed Vegetables and Scallops and you’ll feel like you’re down in the South with the sun beating down. Not to mention, her charcuterie and fruit boards stun with bright colors and great eats. 

Bethany Zozula at 40 North

40 North’s kitchen is fronted by two-time James Beard nominated chef, Beth Zozula. With a seasonally changing menu, Beth experiments with beloved comfort dishes by bringing in locally sourced ingredients and seasonal fusions. For a 40 North staple, order their Pan Fried Rainbow Trout featuring fried sweet potatoes, chili mezcal sauce, grille escarole, and dilly bean relish. The falafel is a crowd favorite, and we love the cocktail program at the bar because we always find a sippable winner every time.

Jacqueline Schoedel at The Speckled Egg

Who doesn’t love brunch? While you can enjoy breakfast any day at The Speckled Egg, their weekend Brunch Menu is a big hit. Co-Owner and Chef Jacqueline Schoedel brings a delightful plate of fresh produce and farm-fresh eggs right to your table. Feast on Goat Cheese Omelettes, Brown Butter French Toast, and Fried Chicken Biscuit on your next weekend outing. One of the reasons we love Chef Jacqueline dates back to Lamb Fest 2019, when she and her teammates presented a legendarily delicious Lamb Sloppy Joe. We’re still thinking about it.

Kate Lasky at Apteka

Vegetables are the star of the show at Apteka. In fact, you won’t find meat anywhere on the menu. James Beard Finalist and Chef Kate Lasky focuses on vegan dishes with a Central and Eastern European touch. Pick a few small plates to share like Bigos which is stewed and spiced cabbage, sauerkraut, potato, and mushrooms on dried fruit with onion bread. Or split a big plate of their potato and cabbage Pierogies made with onion, smoked chili oil, carrot, and salsa. You might whip up a batch of Apteka’s Chlodnik at home and savor Apteka’s unique layering of flavors with your family.  

Michaela Blaney at Mic’s Market

What if you could stop and pick up a healthy, freshly made deli sandwich on your way to work? Mic’s Market makes that a reality by providing a stocked deli case, breakfast burritos, a hot food bar, and smoothie bar. Chef Michaela Blaney runs the operation and makes recipes that everyone can grab and enjoy on the go. Next time you’re in a rush, stop by and try their Flank Steak with Chimichurri ready to go on the rotating hot foods bar. 

Patti Danforth at Feast on Brilliant

Get your grocery shopping and weeknight dinner done in one shopping trip. Owned by Chef Patti Danforth, this specialty foods market incorporates some of the newest and most trendy products. With an ever-changing menu, you never know what the chefs at Feast on Brilliant will prepare. Maybe their Famous Meatloaf will be available, Or, a new Feast Sandwich featuring the upcoming notes of the spring season.

Trang Nguyen at Hyeholde

The desserts at Hyeholde are almost too beautiful to eat. Combining artistry and desserts, Pastry Chef Trang Nguyen creates confections she covers with colorful fruits and crafts with creativity in mind. She continues the Hyeholde tradition of their Crème Brûlée, but also adds in Japanese “Soufflé” Cheesecake with lemon, whipped cream, berry compote, and apricot glaze.

Lori Di Battista and Martine Di Battista at Vivo Kitchen

Comfort food and friendly service makes for a great weeknight dining experience at Vivo Kitchen. The family in charge of Vivo includes Lori Di Battista and Martine Di Battista. Lori makes the desserts. Martine introduced veggie and vegan entrées to the menu a while back. One such dish, their Pan-roasted Forest Mushrooms appetizer, is a mixture of oyster, baby bella and king trumpet mushrooms which are roasted before service with salt and pepper, and then picked up in a ripping hot pan to get the edges of the mushrooms a little bit brown and crispy. They’re plated with dolce gorgonzola cheese and topped with chopped green onions. If you enjoy meat, try the Crispy Garlic Chicken. It’s been on the menu for ages for a good reason: It’s fantastic.

Story by Kylie Thomas

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