A boy who loves fish sticks, and who also happens to have autism, inspired the latest culinary creation by Chef Jordan Eback of Monterey Bay Fish Grotto.
Mr. Eback is one of 14 local chefs who have created unique dishes inspired by individuals on the autism spectrum for "Chefs Create," a Nov. 7 event that will benefit Autism Speaks.
The event's planning committee sent out a questionnaire to families of local individuals on the autism spectrum, asking them to list the individuals' favorite colors, sports teams, foods and other tidbits of information. The committee then created profiles to pass along to each participating chef. Event co-chair Jacquie Ward, marketing coordinator for Pitt Ohio and an Autism Speaks volunteer, said the committee tried to pair individuals with the most appropriate chefs -- like assigning the fish-stick-lover to the chef at a fish restaurant. Another boy loves steak and mentioned it all over his questionnaire responses, so Capital Grille received that young man's profile.
Mr. Eback's fish-stick-lover is 11-year-old Henry, who also loves Legos and coloring and recently had a carnival-themed birthday party. Mr. Eback picked up on both the fish sticks and the carnival to create Ahi Tuna Carnivale, a diced tuna tartare with sesame seed cracker.
No guarantee Henry would eat it -- it bears little resemblance to his beloved fish sticks -- but attendees at the event will get a chance to try it, and Mr. Eback is considering putting it on his restaurant menu as well.
Chef Kevin Watson of Savoy will serve butternut-squash-filled chocolate ravioli with lobster claw meat in a lobster basil cream sauce. His inspiration was 9-year-old Kristina, who loves pasta and dessert, so Mr. Watson decided to combine the two.
Executive Chef Jessica Bauer of Bistro 19 will make Potato & Leek Haystack with Pumpkin Ketchup and Seared Scallop. The potatoes and leeks will be cut like French fries and stacked in a crisp pile, to pick up on 23-year-old Joey's love of fries with ketchup.
The other participating restaurants and chefs are:
Aviva Brick Oven, Alex Williamson
Braddock's American Brasserie, Jason Shaffer
Donato's, Donato Coluccio
Habitat, Jason Dalling
McCormick & Schmick's, Christopher Noonan and Rick Kirsap
Morton's Steakhouse, Matthew Hoffman
Osteria 100, Greg Alauzen
Seviche, Brian Kennedy
Tables on the Green, Chad Radecker
Capital Grille, Travis Hall
Vallozzi's, Julian Vallozzi
Honorary chairperson is former Steeler Lynn Swann, a fitting choice because his Steelers jersey number was 88, and one in 88 children in the U.S. is diagnosed with autism. Mr. Swann and WTAE's Janelle Hall will speak at the event.
Chefs Create will be held at the Fairmont Pittsburgh, Downtown. Cocktails and hors d'oeuvres will be served at 5:30, and guests will be encouraged to "fill your plate for 1 in 88" starting at 7 p.m. Tickets are $100 each. A silent auction will also be held. For information and to buy tickets: chefscreatepittsburgh.org.
More charitable efforts
Signature Chefs Auction: Sample signature dishes created by chefs from The Original Fish Market, Donato's, E2, Tamari and other local restaurants, plus bid on unique auction items (opportunity to ride on the Zamboni at a Pens game, Napa Valley getaway weekend and more). Nov. 5 at the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown. $100 benefits the March of Dimes. 412-505-2200.
Tamari for Hope Dinner: Five-course dinner where attendees can mingle with cancer researchers. 6:30 p.m. Nov. 14 at Tamari, Warrendale. $50; proceeds benefit breast cancer research. 724-933-3155 or tamaripgh.com (click "news").
Fall Festival: Press your own cider, pie contest, cooking demos, bobbing for apples, pig roast and more. 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday at Salt of the Earth in Garfield. $40 per person; free for ages 12 and under. Proceeds benefit Garfield Community Farm (garfieldfarm.com).
Pumpkin Fest: Children's coloring contest, samples of autumn and pumpkin items, and in-store trick-or-treating. 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at The Fresh Market in Mt. Lebanon (trick-or-treat on Saturday only). thefreshmarket.com.
Ukrainian Food Festival: Stuffed cabbage, pierogies, halushki, borscht, kielbasa, pastries. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 2 at St. Vladimir's on the South Side.
Food from other lands
Turkish Food Night: Enjoy Turkish favorites at this fundraiser benefiting the Turkish Cultural Center. 7 p.m. Saturday at the Turkish Cultural Center Pittsburgh, 1459 Crane Ave., Banksville. tccpittsburgh.org.
New Zealand-themed Craft Beer Dinner: Lawrenceville's Roundabout Brewery (whose co-owner, Dyana Sloan, hails from New Zealand) will pair its brews with four courses created by Hartwood Restaurant, including roasted pumpkin ravioli, lamb carpaccio, beer short rib ragout, and chocolate pavlova. 7 p.m. Nov. 5. $45. Reservations: 412-767-3500.
Diane Sanfilippo: The author of "Practical Paleo" will sign copies of her newest book, "21 Day Sugar Detox," from 5 to 7 p.m. Nov. 1 at Penguin Bookshop, Sewickley.
Baking contest: Show off your best baked goods at the Bounty at Boyce Mayview Park Fall Fest on Nov. 9 in Upper St. Clair. Divisions include youth (through age 10), junior (ages 11 to 17) and adult (18 and up). Participants may enter up to two items at $3 per submission. Drop off entries between noon and 1:30 Nov. 9; judging will happen at 2 p.m. To register ahead, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rebecca Sodergren: email@example.com