Pittsburgh has gotten so much press about its current food scene, but how did it all start? Food Systems, a documentary by Pittsburgh filmmaker David Bernabo, explores the history of Pittsburgh restaurant culture, starting with now-closed McKees Rocks’ Primadonna. From there, the documentary visits the now closed Baum Vivant and other original upscale restaurants and Pittsburgh before moving to the Big Burrito Restaurant Group, the apparent catalyst for Pittsburgh’s transformation from a city with a few good restaurants to one of the nation’s most talked-about scenes. To be released to the public this fall, this feature-length documentary is the first of three parts of the Food Systems documentary series that explores food in Pittsburgh.
The documentary features some of the familiar faces of the restaurant scene, including Chef Bill Fuller and Writer Hal B. Klein, but it also explores some of the restaurants and owners that are lesser known, like Lydiah’s Coffee House in Downtown Pittsburgh. Its owner, Lydiah Wanyoike, serves up delicious Kenyan dishes and is considered to be a successful Pittsburgh restaurant without being associated with a large restaurant group.
The project, self-funded and funded via Kickstarter, will be released on a grassroots level. Many of the restaurants featured plan to hold screenings. Currently, a screening is scheduled at Root 174 on September 14 (a limited number of tickets are left: RSVP here) and at the Wigle Barrelhouse on October 1. In addition, the project will be released on Vimeo, and DVD copies will be available. For more information, visit the project’s website: foodsystemsfilm.com