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Tasty fundraising event to roll into Northland library

| Wednesday, July 31, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
The BRGR food truck offers gourmet burgers.
The BRGR food truck offers gourmet burgers.
The Pittsburgh Pierogi Truck offers Polish fare. David Rau is a co-owner.
The Pittsburgh Pierogi Truck offers Polish fare. David Rau is a co-owner.
Franktuary food truck
Franktuary food truck

The Northland Public Library Foundation is bringing an urban culinary trend to the suburbs.

Seven Pittsburgh food trucks will converge from noon to 5 p.m. Aug. 10 on the parking lot of the McCandless library for the Food Truck Round-Up fundraiser.

Freshly made street foods will be for sale, ranging from hot dogs and hamburgers to pierogi and Japanese pancakes. A portion of the sales proceeds — 20 percent — will go to the foundation, which supports library programs.

Participating food trucks include the Pgh Taco Truck, Franktuary and BRGR. The Pittsburgh Pierogi Truck, Oh My Grill, Dozen Bake Shop and Fukuda also will be there.

Tents on the grounds at the library, 300 Cumberland Road, will provide a place for people to eat there; takeout also is an option.

Foundation director Kellie Kaminski, 29, of Ross Township, expects a large turnout.

“We have partnered with the Pittsburgh Pierogi Truck several times in the past. Every time they're here, the line to buy food stretches clear around the library,” she said. “We're building on that enthusiasm by adding more trucks, more variety. We view this as a community event, a cultural offering. The fundraising aspect is secondary to that.”

Donna Rau, 58, coordinator of public relations for the library, said the event could resemble a block party, in terms of atmosphere. “This will be a real community gathering,” Rau, of Hampton Township, said. “We're bringing a little city excitement to the suburbs.”

The food-truck trend has been growing in popularity throughout the country, according to Rick Stern, 60, of Fox Chapel. Stern is a partner in BRGR, which has restaurants in Cranberry Township and Pittsburgh's Shadyside neighborhood, as well as a food truck. His menu features burgers, milkshakes and root beer floats.

“It's fun to see people's excitement. They are really liking the whole food-truck experience,” Stern said.

“They're surprised at the quality of the food they're getting from these trucks. It's just as good as what they'd get at a brick-and-mortar restaurant. Many times, it's even better.”

Today's food trucks — basically kitchens on wheels — boast some of the most up-to-date culinary equipment available.

Stern's BRGR truck, for instance, is a 27-foot FedEx step van that was converted to include a 15- by 18-foot, state-of-the-art kitchen with commercial-grade cook tops, grills, fryers and coolers.

On a smaller scale, the Franktuary truck is a 1988 Chevy P-30 mail truck customized with a 10-foot kitchen that includes a 2-foot griddle, a deep fryer, a refrigerator and several sinks.

Tim Tobitsch, 32, of Pittsburgh's Bloomfield neighborhood, is co-owner and co-founder of Franktuary, which has two restaurants in Pittsburgh and the food truck. “We sell more frankfurters than anything else, but our poutine may be our most talked-about item,” he said.

Poutine is a Canadian dish that consists of french fries topped with brown gravy and fresh cheese curds.

The Pittsburgh Pierogi Truck is a former newspaper truck. “It's not shiny and fancy like some trucks, but it's ours,” said Lynne Szarnicki, 30, of Harmar Township, co-owner and proprietor.

Her menu consists of potato and cheese pierogi, haluski and stuffed cabbage. “The best way to describe our food is to say it's like a lady in the basement of a church made it. I've had grown men giddy as school boys over finding our truck and eating our pierogi.”

The Northland Public Library Foundation supports programs such as the library's summer reading clubs, the children's science program and the lending kiosks at the Ross Township Municipal Center and the Baierl Family YMCA in Franklin Park.

Other plans are in the works, such as an enhanced genealogy area and an outdoor garden space where people can sit and read, Kaminski said.

“We couldn't afford any of these things without private donations and fundraising,” she said.

Laurie Rees is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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