LAMB FEST 2022 — BIGGER AND BETTER THAN EVER
Could we have ordered a more beautiful day? It was sunshine and blue skies over the SouthSide Works as 11 all-star chef teams brought creativity and heart to Pittsburgh’s favorite food competition. Lamb Fest 2022 was bigger and better than ever with over 800 lamb enthusiasts tasting their way down 27th Street. Some new features at this year’s event were the addition of a mini farmers’ market as well the inclusion of the brand new SouthSide Works Town Square into the festival footprint.
We continue to be amazed by the culinary talent represented in and around our city. A vast selection of tasty bites with everything from elevated basics to original dishes, all executed with extraordinary results, was presented by our region’s top chefs. To have the opportunity to work alongside Pittsburgh’s food community is an honor that brings us great joy and pride. We will never be able to truly express the gratitude to all of our festival participants. To the chefs and vendors, as well as the workers and attendees, TABLE extends a huge thank you. It is you who make us look forward to this event year after year.
We will take the successes of 2022 and roll into 2023 with another passionate approach to Lamb Fest. But before we do, we first want to recognize the unbelievably creative work of each team, and announce this year’s winning teams to those of you who are hungry for one last bite of Lamb Fest 2022.
WHO COMPETED AND WHO WERE THE WINNERS OF THE LAMB FEST COOK OFF IN 2022?
Team 1: Black Heart Crew
The ever-ebullient Chef Jackie Page captained a team along side Chef Dan McKenzie and Pastry Chef Augusta Williams. This team brought to the table a Lamb Arancini and added to that a purple potato topped lamb shepherd’s pie and an layered almond cookie, giving each attendee a little extra bit of love. Love is always apart of what you can expect when Chef Jackie is at the helm.
Team 2: Pizza e Birra
CRITIC’S CHOICE WINNER
Fiore & Michelle Moletz, and Rich Burns, all of Della Terra, rolled through slice after slice of naturally leavened Neapolitan Pizza with Lamb Porchetta. Its earthy and sophisticated flavors won over our food critics and earned this team a win for Critic’s Choice.
Team 3: Silence of the Lambs
The combined talent of Chris O’Brien (The Hyeholde), Gary Klinefelter (Alla Famiglia), and Brian Hammond (Siempre Algo), delivered an insanely delicious dish of Grilled Lamb Hearts with Salty Pork Bits Lamb Salumi, Grain Salad and Black Garlic Tahini Sauce. We award this team an honorable mention for the most creative use of ingredients.
Team 4: All Aboard
Like Cypher of Blue Sparrow reached out to his friends at Commonplace Coffee for a key ingredient. His Coffee Rubbed Lamb Tacos with persimmon pico de gallo, cilantro gremolata, and chili lime crema drew a line of people until there was nothing left but a smile.
Team 5: Lamb ‘Rogi
PEOPLE’S CHOICE WINNER
Team leader Chef Kristin Butterworth was accompanied by Tyler Hutchison, David Carrier, John Chusiano, and Martin Fairley, a team of Nemacolin’s finest. Their determination to give a new spin to a Pittsburgh tradition really paid off. The level of expertise and artistry in this Reuben-Style Grilled Lamb Pierogi with Crispy Sauerkraut, Fermented Chili Thousand Island, Pickled Onions & Feta brought Team Lamb ‘Rogi a win with the crowd. The addition of a cup of pilsner and a lamb fat cookie was all gravy.
Team 6: Good Guys
Isaac Deboer, Michael Kaufmann, and Jordan Jackson of dealfish, under the mentorship Don Mahaney of Scratch Food and Beverage, maintained a consistent line of lamb lovers with their Gaeng Panaeng Neua Gae, a Thai red curry made with lamb. Its rich and deeply flavored “gravy” was a marvel to behold.
Team 7: Kofta
Chef Curtis Gamble of Station and Chef Joey Hilty of the Vandal share a similar approach to cooking. They take readily available ingredients and mix in a heavy dose of creativity to make their dishes feel exotic. The smell of grilled kofta was wafting down the street as they prepared this Middle-Eastern-inspired dish. Seasoned to perfection and topped with a bright, acidic, herb heavy sauce, these kabobs went like hotcakes.
Team 8: Lentil (AKA farmer x baker)
A Lamb Fest competitor without lamb? Chef Jen Urich wasn’t afraid of an uphill battle. She brought with her Maura Rapkin, Lauren Green, Taylor Radebaugh, Margo Johnson, and a lentil dish. The first ever vegetarian dish to be offered at our lamb cook-off, Chef Jen’s Lentil Fire Bread with Schug was not only well received by otherwise lamb- expectant noshers, but was also given high marks for plating/ presentation and aroma & taste by our panel of expert judges.
Team 9: Woodfire
2021 Lamb Fest’s reigning champs, Chef Corey Hughes of Fig & Ash and Chef Chris Bonfili of Bonfire, came to defend their title with a Lamb Bánh Mì Summer Roll. Packed with refreshing herbs, spiced lamb, and a rich pâté, guests couldn’t get enough of the sophisticated flavors infused into this presentation, and refused to be denied seconds, and sometimes thirds.
Team 10: Shared Plate
Chefs Roger Li and Julio Peraza teamed up with a multicultural take on their competition dish. Their Ramen Birria blended classic ramen noodles with lamb birria cooked slowly in an adobo sauce rich with chiles, chocolate, cumin, oregano and aromatic spices. A strong contender with a loyal following, this chef team brought forward a dish referred to by some of our judges as a perfect weeknight meal.
Team 11: Stuntegg
This latecoming team didn’t let last minute prep get in the way of bringing a crowd pleasing dish to the competition. When Jacqueline Schoedel of The Speckled Egg found out she was pregnant, she and her husband Nathan were overjoyed. That meant, however, she’d have to skip Lamb Fest participation this year. But when her own little lamb decided to deliver early, Jackie was back in. Thrilled that she’d be part of the festival for the second year in a row, Jackie unleashed Speckled Egg chef de cuisine, Sarah Baugher, who contacted her friends Cody Maze and Ariel Alexander at Stutpig, and shared her brilliant idea: a lamb corndog. The team leaned heavily into a carnival theme by spinning pink cotton candy on site to serve with their Lamb Corndog and Chow Chow. While they didn’t win best dish, they certainly won our vote for most enthusiasm in the 11th hour.
Story by Star Laliberte / Lead Styling by Quelcy Kogel / Plates by Steelite International