Armstrong County Pasta maker takes his fruit-filled pierogi to Kennywood
This summer, John Kaczor's dreams of running his own business have taken him from Cadogan to Kennywood.
Kaczor's new twist on traditional pierogi is wowing the folks at the amusement park.
The owner of the Cadogan-based Kaczor Ravioli Co. and a friend came up with the fruit-filled pierogi. Instead of potato, cheese or sauerkraut, Kaczor stuffs these with apple, lemon, blueberry, even chocolate. And after a light dusting with powdered sugar, pierogi is reminiscent of a puff pastry and a funnel cake.
After passing out samples at a Glassport grocery store earlier this year, Kaczor had another eureka moment. He wasn't far from Kennywood — a place big on fun food, in an area rich with ethnic food tradition.
“That's right in the heart of pierogi country,” he said. “Where I really needed to be.”
Kaczor made an appointment with the West Mifflin park. In April, he met with food service management, who greeted him, fryers at the ready.
“One bite out of it and they were like, ‘this is a really good product for the park,' ” Kaczor said.
Kennywood introduced the fruit-filled pierogi in May, selling them at the funnel cake stand near the Log Jammer.
For $5.25, guests get three pierogi with their choice of filling. The deep-fried treats can be ordered plain or topped with strawberries and ice cream.
If Kennywood deems them a success, it's likely the dessert dumplings will return next summer.
The menu item is catching on, according to Mike Henninger, the park's food service director.
“It's something unique you don't see at a lot of places,” Henninger said. “It fits really well with Pittsburgh.”
For 50-year-old Kaczor, the road to Kennywood — and full-time pasta production — has proved as interesting as any of the amusement park's rides.
He founded his company in 2011, selling ravioli, gnocchi and pierogi at local festivals, for fundraisers and at area grocery stores.
His Italian mother taught him how to make ravioli when he was a teen. For years, Kaczor crafted homemade pasta for holidays and special occasions, often with the help of his wife, Marsha, and their friends. He worked at Key Bellevilles near Leechburg for years, but always dreamed of entering the pasta business.
“I was always still wanting to do my ravioli gig, you know?” he said.
He took the chance three years ago when a coworker scoffed at his dream.
Kaczor went home that night and put $6,000 down on an Italian-made ravioli machine. Two years later, he left Key Bellevilles behind.
Now he's working out of the same kitchen where his mother taught him to make ravioli. Half of the duplex is his headquarters, while 92-year-old Ann Kaczor makes her home on the other side.
Ann said she always knew her son would be a successful business owner, but didn't realize he'd do so using her meat ravioli recipe.
“He was just a young boy, not even a teen, yet talking about his own business,” she said.
She credits his father, Stanley, with instilling in their children a sense of perfectionism and a solid work ethic.
She said she's proud he's using her meat ravioli recipe, along with the pierogi with potato and cheese that he learned from a Polish aunt.
Taken together, it seems Kaczor's family instilled in him a recipe for success.
“I'm doing what my dad taught me to do, be an independent thinker and don't back down,” he said. “I know what I bring to the table.”
Julie E. Martin is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1315 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Armstrong tourist bureau rethinking vote to move to East Franklin
- Weather causing minor problems in Armstrong
- Kittanning will vote to eliminate authority
- McGrann family to see ‘angel’s’ dream come true
- West Kittanning still wrestling with whether to fix or replace patrol car
- Kittanning man the third sentenced in St. Patrick’s Day fatal beating
- Newest union plans picket outside ACMH Hospital in East Franklin
- Kittanning Dance-a-Thon to help boy’s family
- Armstrong school merger will result in job cuts
- West Kittanning approves sign moratorium
- Armstrong students slow to apply for scholarships