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Authors schedule talk about Pittsburgh's top cuisine at Hampton library

| Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, 9:02 p.m.
The authors of the guide in the photo are Mandy McFadden, left, Julia Gongaware, Laura Zorch and Sarah Sudar.
Pine Creek Journal
The authors of the guide in the photo are Mandy McFadden, left, Julia Gongaware, Laura Zorch and Sarah Sudar. Submitted
This is the book jacket to Food Lovers' Guide To Pittsburgh.
Pine Creek Journal
This is the book jacket to Food Lovers' Guide To Pittsburgh.

Oh, to eat out for a living.

“We all would probably love that,” said Sarah Sudar, co-author of the “Food Lovers' Guide to Pittsburgh: The Best Restaurants, Markets and Local Culinary Offerings” (Globe Pequot Press; $14.95).

Four local women wrote the sold-out, 318-page book. It covers more than 220 eateries and includes a number of the establishments' recipes.

The authors — all of whom have full-time jobs — will talk about their passion for all things palate-pleasing at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 24 in Hampton Community Library.

Admission is $2.

“We all like to eat out a lot ... None of us have a culinary background,” said Sudar, 29, of Hopewell, Beaver County.

A University of Pittsburgh employee, Sudar helped launch the literary quartet responsible for the “Food Lovers' Guide to Pittsburgh.”

The women also write about food and eating out at, their blog, which led to their book.

“I think we're all on some sort of diet,” said Sudar, a communications specialist in the University of Pittsburgh Division of General Internal Medicine.

Sudar's co-authors are Julia Gongaware, 30, of Bloomfield; Laura Zorch, 29, of Shadyside; and Amanda McFadden, 29, of Mt. Lebanon.

“I'm the cheeseburger girl of the group,” said Gongaware, social marketing manager for UPMC Health Plan.

“Blue cheeseburgers are my favorite.”

Zorch is the educational programs assistant in the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council's Office of Public Art.

“I love anything with cake and cookies,” she said. “I'm sort of the sweets expert.”

McFadden — digital engagement manager for PPG Industries — confesses a fondness for ice cream, pizza and the Asian chicken salad at Applebee's.

“I feel guilty sometimes, going to chain restaurants,” McFadden said. “I think ‘I should be checking out something new.'”

Sudar and McFadden are 2002 graduates of Hopewell Area High School.

“We liked going out to eat. We liked talking about it,” Sudar said. “We said, ‘Why don't we just start a food blog.'”

McFadden then connected with Zorch at Westminster College. Sudar met Gongaware at Point Park University.

The women now meet weekly to plan and review their dining adventures, and all spend about 10 hours a week on their part-time jobs as a phantom restaurant reviewers, according to Zorch.

“We don't use big words. We just tell you how we honestly feel,” said Sudar, whose favorite local eateries include Alla Famiglia in the Allentown section of Pittsburgh; Meat & Potatoes in downtown Pittsburgh; Beto's on Banksville Road; and Clifford's Restaurant near Evans City, Butler County.

The women's upcoming visit to Hampton Community Library will highlight a meeting of the library's Cooks-n-Books group, which gathers monthly to swap cooking experiences and sample each others' recipes. About 15 women of many ages attend the group's meetings.

“We pick a theme. We make food,” said Suzanna Krispli, director of Hampton Community Library

Limited copies of the “Food Lovers' Guide to Pittsburgh” will be available for purchase at the authors' talk. Advance registration is requested by calling 412-684-1098.

Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or

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