Pittsburgh chef, former Steelers player team up for ‘Taste of the NFL’ to benefit food bank | TribLIVE.com
Food & Drink

Pittsburgh chef, former Steelers player team up for ‘Taste of the NFL’ to benefit food bank

Candy Williams
Scott Walton, executive chef at Acorn, Shadyside, is selling his housemade everything bagels during weekend brunch at his restaurant to support the “Taste of the NFL” fundraiser.
Ginni McDonough
Scott Walton, executive chef and partner at Acorn, Shadyside, will represent the Pittsburgh Steelers along with former Steelers linebacker Andy Russell at the "Taste of the NFL."
Pittsburgh Steelers alum Andy Russell will represent the team with Scott Walton, executive chef at Acorn, Shadyside, at the ‘Taste of the NFL’ fundraiser on Super Bowl Eve in Atlanta.
Brian Singer
Scott Walton, executive chef at Acorn, Shadyside, will prepare his BBQ celeriac, fried "rice" for "Taste of the NFL."

In a way, Scott Walton and Andy Russell have been a part of the same team — only at different times.

Russell was a linebacker and part of the “Steel Curtain” defense for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1970s until he retired from professional football and went into business.

Walton served as the executive chef at Heinz Field, the Steelers stadium, when he and his wife, Maggie, moved to Pittsburgh in 2014 from Chicago. He is now the executive chef at Acorn in Shadyside, a restaurant that he and his partners Brian Singer and Jason Akemann opened in fall 2017.

Russell and Walton will represent Pittsburgh on Feb. 2 at “Taste of the NFL,” an annual fundraiser held the night before the Super Bowl, in this year’s host city of Atlanta, Ga.

Team players

This is Russell’s 10th year as the Steelers ambassador supporting the cause to combat hunger and Walton’s first year as his partner and chef charged with creating a dish for the event.

The $700-a-ticket strolling food and wine event, also known as the “Party with a Purpose,” will take place at 7 p.m. on Super Bowl Eve, at the Cobb Galleria Centre. Proceeds will benefit food pantries across the country, including the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

The event features a chef from each NFL city serving their signature dish alongside a current or alumni NFL player. Guests can sample fine cuisine, meet and mingle with the chefs and players and participate in a silent auction with sports memorabilia and other items.

“We will be presenting a BBQ celeriac, fried ‘rice,’ ” Walton said, “composed of peanuts that have been braised in coconut, lemon grass and kaffir lime until soft and then extruded to represent the size and texture of rice. The milk and umboshi (salted cured Japanese plum) — braised celeriac will be grilled and have the texture of meat. Bean sprouts, apple and kimchi vinaigrette finish the dish.”

Bagels a huge hit

As another part of the fundraiser for the food banks, Walton is selling his “housemade everything bagels” prepared a few different ways for $12 each during weekend brunch at his restaurant.

“Verlasso (a sustainable, open-ocean salmon producer) was kind enough to donate 200 pounds of salmon, which has been prepared three different ways: beet-cured lox with dill and dukkah, pastrami salmon with coffee and molasses and hot smoked salmon schmear. It’s been a huge hit — something that has inspired my next endeavor here in Pittsburgh.”

Walton and Steve Paul, his sous chef at Acorn, will fly to Atlanta on Feb. 1, where he will have a small amount of prep time that day.

“Most of the work will be done on Saturday,” he said. “I have been coordinating half of the product to be delivered by Atlanta purveyors, and the rest of the product I will FedEx on Thursday from Pittsburgh. It’s a bit nerve-wracking knowing the sheer size of the Super Bowl, then including shipping and possible weather challenges.”

Quick-fire challenge

He said they’re going to “cross our fingers and hope it’s all there when we arrive; if not, we will look at it as a quick-fire challenge!”

Those who won’t be in Atlanta can find out about the Kick Hunger Challenge, for which donations will be accepted until Feb. 3 in the name of an NFL team with proceeds benefitting each city’s local food pantry. Details are at kickhunger challenge.com.

Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

Categories: Lifestyles | Food Drink
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.