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Chef whips up delight at The Pig & Truffle in Hempfield

| Thursday, April 18, 2013, 8:55 p.m.
Brian F. Henry | Tribune-Review
Chef Lisa Hyde Grosz, executive chef of The Pig & Truffle, a private restaurant on a historical horse farm in Hempfield Township, serves an asparagus cappuccino on Sunday, April 14, 2013.

When you walk into Chef Lisa Hyde Grosz's kitchen at the Pig & Truffle, she greets you as though you are walking into her home.

In a sense, you are.

For Chef Hyde Grosz, love and appreciation has always been a signature ingredient of cooking.

It's one of the reasons she has just designated as one of the country's top culinary talents in the inaugural edition of Best Chefs America.

Ben Biddle, vice president for business development for Best Chefs America, said the first edition is based on 5,000 confidential interviews with chefs nationwide.

Among other questions, they were asked:

• Who would you recommend as a chef in your area?

• Who would you want cooking dinner for your family?

• Who is an up and coming chef?

The only way to appear in the publication is to be mentioned frequently enough by your peers.

“The only way to appear in the book is through chefs' recommendation of other chefs,” Biddle said. “The significance goes back to ‘chefs know best.'”

The Pig & Truffle is a private restaurant in Hempfield where Chef Hyde Grosz cooks in front of her customers, teaching, adding ingredients, entertaining, and making them feel at home.

It can be found on an historical horse farm, where guests also enjoy the lounge, smoking room or an outdoor area with a fire pit. Groups can reserve the restaurant, and even skeet shoot on the property, before their three-hour, five-course meal.

Chef Hyde Grosz began cooking when she was 6 years old, making homemade gnocchi and sauce alongside her Italian grandmother. As a child, for Christmas all she wanted was a Holly Hobby Cake Set.

Chef Hyde Grosz trained in Europe and at the famed Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons in Oxford, England, where Raymond Blanc has championed organic produce for two decades while working with gardeners to create herb beds with 70 varieties, a garden with more than 90 types of vegetables, a mushroom garden with 20 species and an orchard. She received private cooking lessons with French-trained Blanc.

Chef Hyde Grosz continued her education for nine years under English Chef Steven Hyde, who cooked for the late Queen Mother. She has studied cooking in South Florida, written five books, and has owned two private cheffing and catering companies.

She seems, however, to have found her true niche at The Pig & Truffle, which got its name from her love of the names given to English pubs.

“The stress of being in front of people can be high, but I embrace and love it and use it as a learning lesson,” said Chef Hyde Grosz. “I don't want to be in the back of the house... . I'd rather be interactive and teach.”

Sous Chef Leah Levin has been working at The Pig & Truffle for just a few months but believes the knowledge she is gaining is invaluable.

“Chef is more than happy to teach and teaches great techniques,” Levin said. “You don't have to have a lot of experience because (Chef) likes to mold you into exactly what she wants.”

Andrew Nagy, 18, a senior at Norwin High School, has waited tables at T.G.I. Fridays in the past but finds his experience as a dishwasher and jack-of-all-trades at the Pig & Truffle completely different.

“It's a stressful environment but it makes you try harder,” Nagy said. “Whenever you don't have anyone watching you, you tend to slack. Everybody has a great time here and (they) are laughing when they leave.”

Teaching by example is one of the goals at Pig &Truffle.

Making memorable moments is another goal.

For Chef Hyde Grosz and her sous chef husband Mark Hyde Grosz, who have been married for six years, cooking for their customers provides an experience unlike any other.

Whether it's Asparagus Cappuccino, Duck Leg Comfit Cassoulet or Osso Bucco, the food at The Pig & Truffle is unique and interesting.

“I like to say it's Food Network live ... crazy atmosphere, not structured or regimented... .In other words, completely unexpected,” Chef Hyde Grosz said.

Michele Stewardson is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.