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City's finest prepare to Savor Pittsburgh

| Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013, 7:48 p.m.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
Savoy Chef Kevin Watson with Roasted Butternut Squash filled Chocolate Raviolis with Lobster Claw Meat at the restaurant in The Strip. The dish was Savor Pittsburgh's Award Winning Appetizer in 2012.
Guests at Savor Pittsburgh enjoy a variety of delightful dishes, such as last year's lobster creation from McCormick & Schmick’s.

Every year, some of the region's top culinary artists come together to compete for top honors. The real winner, however, is a local charity dedicated to improving the lives of others.

The eighth installment of Savor Pittsburgh will be Aug. 29 at the SouthSide Works.

The culinary competition is a collection of Pittsburgh's finest chefs sharing their recipes as they compete for Dish of the Year, Best Appetizer, Best Entrée, Best Dessert and People's Choice.

“Without a doubt, the chefs bring their A games,” Christina Dickerson, one of the event's organizers, says.

Savor Pittsburgh has raised funds for a variety of good causes. All proceeds from this year's event will benefit the fight against prematurity at Magee-Womens Research Institute & Foundation. The institute is one of the nation's largest research facilities focusing solely on reproductive biology and women's and infants' health.

The secondary goal of Savor Pittsburgh is to unite the restaurant community, especially as the dining scene in Pittsburgh is experiencing an exciting period of growth.

“That's why it was initially started,” Dickerson says. “We saw Pittsburgh was on the brink of a culinary explosion, and it's happening. We're living it right now. New restaurants are trying new concepts.”

Chef Ricky Kirsop of McCormick & Schmick's Seafood at SouthSide Works also helped launch the local event after realizing such competitions were rare in Pittsburgh.

“Everybody has a competitive edge,” he says with a laugh. “Pittsburgh is up-and-coming in the culinary aspect. It's catching up.”

Last year's event attracted more than 1,000 guests who sampled 35 different dishes. Each year, a panel of celebrity and culinary judges critique each dish and award prizes.

Chef Kevin Watson's Savoy Restaurant won several awards last year including Best Appetizer for his chocolate ravioli and People's Choice. Watson says, in addition to helping charity, the event is simply fun.

“We really like being a part of it,” he says. “It's great to see the city pull together. If you win, it's great, but we're all getting together to raise money for a good cause, and it always turns into a blast.”

Watson uses the event as an opportunity to stretch his creative culinary chops. If an item is successful at Savor, it ends up on Savoy's menu.

Some of last year's winners also included Meat and Potatoes with Dish of the Year for smoked pig wings; Jackson's in Moon with Best Entrée for short ribs with roasted apple, root vegetables and natural reduction; and the Grand Concourse with Best Dessert for white-chocolate cappuccino cannoli with balsamic glazed strawberries.

This year, guest will have the option of purchasing VIP tickets for early entry and a menu prepared by McCormick & Schmicks, Grand Concourse and Morton's The Steakhouse.

“It's going to be fantastic,” says Dickerson. “We're so excited.”

Rachel Weaver is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7948 or

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