Celebrate 20 years of Kaya

Written by Gretchen McKay on . Events

kayafest

Kaya, Big Burrito Group's Caribbean-inspired restaurant, turns 20 this year and is celebrating in style with one hell of a street party.

KayaFest returns to the Strip District this Sunday, May 24, with a day-long series of events that starts with a pop-up yoga class and includes live Jamaican and other music (with accompanying dancing in the street) from five groovin' bands.

And did we say food? There will be lots of it, with an island-themed menu from Big Burrito executive chef Bill Fuller and Kaya executive chef Ben Sloan that features a little of something for everyone, so long as you like things spicy. kaya logo

The menu includes jerked chicken with a spicy mango sauce; grilled veggie, steak or chicken tacos on Reyna Foods' hand-made flour tortillas; slow-cooked pork served with braised greens and beans; and the hautest hot dog in town, the Kaya Dog. The all-beef dog comes piled high with avocado, pico de gallo, crumbled cotija cheese and fresh cilantro.  

Also, corn on the cob, because the annual event at the corner of Smallman and 20th streets is once again being held on Memorial Day weekend. 

Dancing makes you very, very thirsty so there also will be plenty of adult beverages.  Tropical-style drinks include mojitos and attendees also can choose between Troegs Perpetual IPA and Sunshine Pils on draft or Bell's Oberon, Corona and Corona Light in cans. 

The second in Big Burrito's group of six restaurants to open, in 1996 (the first Mad Mex opened on Atwood St. in Oakland in 1993), Kaya has always been popular with Pittsburghers. Though its first chef, Gary Terner, wasn't so sure the concept would fly in what was then a pretty traditional restaurant scene.

"I had no idea what I had gotten myself into," he recalls. Not only did construction take longer than expected, but there was no place to test the island-inspired recipes it's become famous for other than in his own kitchen.

"My wife, Kathy, she'd come home from work every day to a new bunch of test food to try," says Mr. Terner, who now heads up the group's catering division. "With all the coming and going at my house, my neighbors thought that I had lost my job and was selling drugs."

Equally difficult was trying to hire a kitchen staff of 25 from a "pretty thin" labor pool.  Until they opened, that is. Then "every cook in the city wanted to work there."

To that end, some of Pittsburgh's most recognized names have manned Kaya's kitchen, including Kevin Sousa of Superior Motors, Sean Ehland (now at Aster Restaurant in San Francisco), Jason Watts of Sienna Sulla and Mike Hendricks, who is  a team leader at Whole Foods.seanatkayafest 

And some of Hollywood's biggest stars have eaten there, too. Along with Bill Murray, Randy Quaid, Franco Harris and David Byrne of the Talking Heads, Kaya's staff has fed Woody Harrelson and Sharon Stone, who requested that staff not be allowed to look at her.

Here's the schedule for Sunday's fest, which runs from 3 to 11 p.m. :

11 a.m - 12:30 p.m.  -- A yoga practice lead by The Yoga Hive on Smallman St. in front of the restaurant. A $15 suggested donation does to Pittsburgh Food Bank, and all attendees will receive a voucher for a KayaFest drink.

2 p.m. -- DJ Grooving Jillian mixes it up with techno, disco and hip hop.

3:45 p.m.  -- The Byron Nash and Evan Thorsen Project

5:15 p.m. -- Working Breed

6:45 p.m. -- The Pressure

8 p.m. -- Timbeleza and Pittsburgh Samba Group

9:30 p.m. -- Truth and Rites


Big Burrito photos


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What's dishing on the blogs: Grilled sandwiches

Written by Dana Cizmas on . Shared Plates

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This week, we have grilled sandwiches and easy pizza concoctions. Here's what's dishing on the blogs we follow:

Linda from Dinner Plan-it gobbled down a crunchy Eggplant Parm Grilled Cheese Supreme for dinner, while Sam from Haute Pepper Bites wolfed down an awesome Griller Sandwich with Roasted Red Pepper Mayo. On the somewhat lighter side, Jessica from How Sweet It Is made BBQ Chicken and Pineapple Lettuce Wraps, and Chef Chuck from Cooks and Eats prepared Tequila Prawns with Cilantro, Basil, Honey, and Sweet Peppers.

On the pizza menu, The Hungry Hounds whipped up a vibrant Carrot Ricotta Tart with Herbs and the Brown Eyed Baker went for a flavorful Pepperoni Pizza Monkey Bread with Dipping Sauce. For a touch of sweetness, try the colorful Coney Island Cheesecake from How Sweet It Is or the Classic Pound Cake from the Brown Eyed Baker. And for even more inspiration, check out Hungry Hounds' cookbook collection.

Lastly, on the restaurant front, the girls from eatPGH reviewed Osteria 2350; Chef Chuck from Cooks and Eats paid a visit to Lenzis in Monongahela; according to Good Food Pittsburgh, Spoon introduced new spring cocktails; Hal B. Klein at Pittsburgh Magazine informed us that the city's food community paid tribute to Penn Mac's "Dearheart"; Yum Yum recapped her dining experience at 22 North in Wrightsville Beach, N.C.; whereas Bill from Three Dogs BBQ attended the Salt City BBQ Festival in Syracuse, N.Y.

See you here next week!

Dinner Plan-it photo

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What's dishing on the blogs: Colorful salads

Written by Dana Cizmas on . Shared Plates

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This week, we have fun salads and rich main courses. Here's what's dishing on the blogs we follow:

Jessica from How Sweet It Is made a summery Grilled Buffalo Chicken Caesar Salad. Haute Pepper Bites prepared easy Asian Lettuce Wraps. The Hungry Hounds whipped up a Crunchy Broccoli Stem Slaw with Hoisin Vinaigrette, while Yum Yum opted for simple Roasted Broccoli.

For something more satisfying, try the silky Fettuccine with Brown Butter Asparagus and Parmesan Fonduta from How Sweet It Is or the hearty Smoked Pork Roast Braised in Bloody Mary Mix from Three Dogs BBQ. And on the dessert menu, Culinary Cory tossed together some beautifully perfumed Stove-top Candied Pecans, whereas the Brown Eyed Baker shared with us the Ultimate Magic Bars.

On the restaurant scene, the girls from eatPGH celebrated at Tako; Hal B. Klein at Pittsburgh Magazine dished about the new developments at Cure; Good Food Pittsburgh announced that San Lorenzo Restaurant is hosting a pig roast this Friday, May 15; Leah from Brazen Kitchen updated us on where to find her in May; Yum Yum took a trip to N.C.; and Dan from Pizza Walk with Me talked about the latest on Pittsburgh Pizza.

See you here next week!

How Sweet It Is photo

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Donato Coluccio has left Donato's and will return to the Capital Grille Downtown

Written by Melissa McCart on . The Forks blog

Chef-and-co-owner-Donato-Coluccio-prepares-chicken-milaneseExecutive chef of Donato's in O'Hara on Fox Chapel Road, Donato Coluccio has departed to run the kitchen at the Capital Grille Downtown, where he had been the head chef when it opened in 2007.

Donato's owner David Tesone made the announcement on Facebook on Monday.

"As we bid [chef Coluccio] farewell, we would like to reiterate that this will not change Donato's hours of operation or the highest standard of quality by which we uphold ourselves toward providing you the most enhanced dining experience."

Chris Lorish will take over the kitchen at Donato's, a cook under Mr. Coluccio since he graduated from culinary school. The staples on the menu will remain, though he is in the process of finalizing a spring/summer menu.

Mr. Tesone said his kitchen staff has been very consistent, with four cooks who have been with the restaurant since it opened in 2010.

"There's no bad blood and we are friends," said Mr. Tesone regarding Mr. Coluccio's departure. "It's why I made the announcement on social media. I wish him the best."

Mr. Coluccio will start training next week and will take over as executive chef at the Capital Grille on May 26, said a spokesperson from the restaurant.

Lake Fong/Post-Gazette photo

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A few cherry-picked food events for the week

Written by Melissa McCart on . The Forks blog

Square-Cafe-Regent-SquareAmong the many things going on this week: Tonight, the bar staff at Butterjoint in Oakland are donating tips to Strong Women, Strong Girls as part of its "Libations and Donations" series. Check it out here

Thursday through Saturday marks the opening of 26th Street Market & Cafe at 2549 Penn Ave. in the Strip, with live music during lunch hours. The spot will sell groceries and prepared foods to go, as well as coffee, breakfast starting at 7 a.m. and sandwiches. Click here for the menu

On Saturday, Leadership Pittsburgh Inc. is hosting Fresh Fest in the California-Kirkbride neighborhood on the North Side from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will be a Food Feud, a cookoff between neighborhood residents and Bill Fuller of Big Burrito Restaurant Group, Dustin Miller of Giant Eagle Market District and Doran Bareford of Life is Sweet Bakery in Mt. Lebanon. I'll be judging, along with Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Josh Verbanets of the Josh and Gab Show, among others. I'm also looking forward to the neighborhood debut of mobile produce truck, Farm Truck Foods. For more information, click here. 

From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, Square Cafe will celebrate its 12th anniversary in Regent Square with a day of live music, art and the unveiling of a restaurant mascot. More than a decade in business is quite an accomplishment!

Andy Starnes/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 

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Eins, zwei, g'suffa!

Written by Gretchen McKay on . Events

Bierfest

Lovers of German food, beer and dancing typically have to “know” someone to catch a meal or performance at Teutonia Mannerchor: Most events at the 160-year-old German social club in the Deutschtown section of the North Side are for members and their guests only. 

This Saturday, May 16,  poses the rare exception.

The Bavarian-Austrian folk dance group G.T.V. D'Lustigen Isartaler of Pittsburgh is celebrating Stiftungsfest, or Founder’s Day, with a ceremonial parade, religious mass and dinner-dance at the historic two-story club. And they’re inviting you --  Regular Joe, with no club connections -- to join in. teutonia mannerchor exterior

The festivities begin at 3 p.m. in front of Teutonia’s clubhouse at 857 Phineas Street. There, members wearing traditional dress and waving German and American flags will lead a procession up Troy Hill Road to the historic Saint Anthony Chapel, where some 5,000 religious relics -- the second largest collection of sacred relics outside the Vatican -- are on display and a special mass will be celebrated at 4 p.m. auf Deutsch. 

A festive banquet dinner buffet featuring typical Bavarian food follows in the club’s upstairs Sangerhalle from 6 to 7 p.m. (don’t worry about having to schlep it back on foot  -- a bus will shuttle participants from the church). Then it’s on to an evening of traditional German dance and music. The dance band Siasswasser Tanzlmusi is traveling all the way from Detroit to play their wide repertoire of alpine volksmusik, and ticket holders also will enjoy performances by the Isartaler dance group and chorus. 

Tickets cost $12 for the music event (no food) or $30 with the buffet dinner. Children ages 12 and under are half price. There will be plenty of German beer, of course,  but keep in mind it’s a cash bar. 

isartaler foodAt with most events at the club, tracht -- traditional German regional dress that includes lederhosen for the men and dirndls for the women -- is always acceptable, perhaps even preferred. But street clothes are okay, too, so long as you don’t make the mistake of wearing jeans or tennis shoes and your shirt has a collar. 

A little history: Teutonia Mannerchor was founded in 1854, when the North Side was still known as the city of Allegheny. Named for the Isar River in Germany, D’Lustigen Isartale formed in 1972 as a way to promote and foster among its members a genuine love for Bavarian and Austrian traditions, customs and folk dancing. Most of its members are of Germanic descent, but not all: They're always on the lookout for those who love to dance and/or can carry a tune and would like to learn the art of Bavarian/Austrian folk dancing and singing.

More info: 724-822-9444 or www.isartalerpittsburgh.org.

Post-Gazette (top), Teutonia Mannerchor (middle) and D'Lustigen Isartale photos


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