Kevin Sousa, best known for the ultra-modern Alchemy menu he serves in a small section of Downtown's Bigelow Grille in the Doubletree Hotel, is leaving to become executive chef at East Liberty's Red Room Cafe and Lounge.
The move marks the latest culinary coup for the East End neighborhood. Last month, renowned chef Richard Chen unveiled plans for a new Chinese restaurant in the expanding Eastside development across the street from the Red Room, which is at the corner of South Highland Avenue and Penn Circle South.
Mr. Sousa premiered the Alchemy dinner in early 2006, introducing the region to the cooking techniques and philosophy made famous by Ferran Adria at El Bulli in Spain and Heston Blumenthal at the Fat Duck in England. This type of cuisine makes use of ingredients and techniques previously restricted to industrial foods and laboratories to play with texture, flavor, temperature and presentation, allowing the diner to experience food in a new way.
The last Alchemy dinner at the Bigelow Grille will be next Saturday, at the request of the hotel, which does not plan to continue the Alchemy dinner after Mr. Sousa's departure.
With the inception of the new Red Room menu, which will use the Alchemy approach throughout, Pittsburgh will join only a handful of cities with restaurants focusing on this type of cuisine.
Mr. Sousa has already begun drafting the new menu, which will be small and al carte and should be ready by June. As part of the change, the Red Room will be expanding the dining room into the lounge area and moving the lounge to a new space adjacent to its existing location. The lounge will have a separate menu of "modern sushi and tapas," says Mr. Sousa.
Restaurant critic China Millman can be reached at email@example.com or 412-263-1198.