click to enlarge

CP photo: Jared Wickerham

Chef Wei Zhu of Chengdu Gourmet

Four chefs from Pittsburgh were included in the list of semifinalists of the prestigious competition The James Byrd Foundation Restaurant and Chef Awards in 2022.

Beth Zozula from 40 North on the North Side, Wei Zhu from Chengdu Gourmet in Squirrel Hill and Kate Laski and Tomasz Skawronski from Apteka in Bloomfield are semi-finalists for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic (the last two in pairs). They are among the top 20 nominees in Pennsylvania, Washington, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Virginia.

Previously, Cuckoo was recognized in 2018 for her work at the now-closed Ace Hotel. Wei Zhu earned his fifth Chengdu gourmet nomination. Laski and Skavronsky are the first semifinalists.

The finalists will be announced on March 16, and the winners will be announced at the James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards ceremony to be held on Monday, June 13, 2022, at the Chicago Lyric Opera. To get the full list of semifinalists, click here.

click to enlarge Plate with falafel in the north, 40 - CP PHOTO: LISA CUNNING

CP Photo: Lisa Cunningham

A plate of falafel at 40 to the north

40 North
40 V. North Ave., North Side.
Opened in the summer of 2021, this culinary app at City of Asylum and Alphabet City headquarters offers brunch, lunch and dinner. It also offers a great selection of snacks that can easily become a main dish on any walk. The current menu features several appealing dishes inspired by cuisines from around the world, including khachapuri, a type of Georgian cheese bread, chevron flavored zaatar, fried olives and more. The selection reflects the mission of the City of Asylum and Alphabet City to host and showcase writers and artists from around the world, mostly those who have escaped persecution in their home countries.

click to enlarge Diced chicken in Chengdu Gourmet with dried pepper - CP PHOTO: JARED WICKERHAM

CP Photo: Jared Wickerham

Diced Chongqing style chicken with dried peppers

Gourmet Chengdu

5840 Ave Forward, Squirrel Mountain.
Chengdu Gourmet has been intoxicating Pittsburgh residents with intense aromas of authentic Sichuan cuisine since 2014. Sichuan cuisine is not soft and sweet, but sophisticated, bold spicy. Also, it’s hard to come up with umbrella adjectives to describe the dazzling set of Sichuan dishes presented in Chengdu Gourmet’s 20-page “Traditional Chinese” menu – everything from silk tofu and sea cucumber to spare ribs and spicy rabbit. Fortunately, since some dishes are familiar to American visitors, the menu is richly illustrated with color photographs.

click to enlarge Dishes Refrigerator and Sofas at the Pharmacy - CP PHOTO: JARED WICKERHAM

CP photo: Jared Wickerham

Dishes Fridge and Sofas in the Pharmacy

4606 Penn Ave., Lawrenceville.
Eastern European cuisine is not the most obvious starting point for a vegan menu. But Apteka’s Kate Laski and Tomasz Skawronski instantly became popular anyway, opening their own twist in Central and Eastern European restaurants. Today, the restaurant regularly queues at the door, when customers are waiting their turn to order at the counter pies, borscht or vegetarian schnitzel. As a Pittsburgh restaurant, of course, Apteka’s pies should be key. The restaurant has two varieties: one sauerkraut and mushrooms, the other smoked cabbage and potatoes. Both are delicious.

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