The Food Column: Jamie Deen leads celebrity chefs visiting Pittsburgh

Maybe Jamie Deen will have more memories of Pittsburgh after his second visit.

"I don't really remember what we did" during his first visit, he said, "and that's probably because my brother and I spent the night drinking Yuengling at the Pirates ballpark."

No matter -- he'll have another crack at Pittsburgh on Nov. 10 when he visits Giant Eagle Market District stores (11 a.m. in Bethel Park and 3 p.m. in Pine) for free demos and book signings.

He's one of many celebrity chefs and cookbook authors visiting Pittsburgh this month.

Mr. Deen is one of three family members at the helm of a Southern cooking empire. Most folks are more familiar with his mom, Paula Deen, although Jamie and his brother, Bobby, are rising stars as well.

Family business wasn't always a happy prospect. Jamie Deen left college at 21 to live and work with his mom, and "that's a tough spot for a young man to be in," he said. He felt he knew more than the boss -- his mom -- because he'd started cooking burgers in a restaurant at age 16, but his mom had never had restaurant experience. Her entry into the food business came when she started The Bag Lady, a sandwich delivery service around Savannah.

But things eventually smoothed over, and each family member found a niche.

You could say Jamie Deen's niche is "home boy." Bobby, the single brother, and Paula, the matriarch with grown kids, are more free to travel. Jamie remains tethered to his hometown of Savannah. He's the family member most involved in the family restaurant, The Lady and Sons. And his TV show, "Home for Dinner with Jamie Deen," is aptly named because it allows him to stay home -- it's filmed in Savannah.

This gives him time with wife, Brooke, and sons Jack, 6, and Matthew, 17 months, although he does travel a bit for trips like his Pittsburgh appearance.

The Deens are launching a Paula Deen food line, starting with drinks late this year and adding chocolate early next year and prepared foods later in 2013. Jamie Deen also has another cookbook and more TV shows in the works.

"All I know is that I won't be bored tomorrow," he said, laughing.

Cookbook authors and celebs

Here's the running list of celebs visiting Pittsburgh in November:

Tomorrow: Diane Morgan, cookbook author and former Pittsburgher, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Pittsburgh Public Market (lunch of dishes from her cookbook, demos, signed cookbook to take home); $49. (Find her PG-tested recipe for Turnip Soup with Greens, to be served at the lunch, in Oct. 28's Sunday Magazine section and at

Nov. 9: Robert Irvine, star of "Restaurant: Impossible" and other Food Network shows, 8 p.m. at Palace Theatre, Greensburg. $39 or $49, or $150 for a pre-show meet-and-greet with private cooking demos.

Nov. 12: Lisa Lillien, Food Network and Cooking Channel star, signs books at 7 p.m. Nov. 12 at Barnes & Noble, Robinson. Free.

Nov. 17: The four women of (Sarah Sudar, Julia Gongaware, Amanda McFadden and Laura Zorch), who recently released "Food Lovers' Guide to Pittsburgh," will demo Pittsburgh's favorite recipes (see one of them below). 11:30 a.m. at Market District, Bethel Park, and 3 p.m. at Market District in Pine. Free, but register ahead at

Nov. 28: Cake Boss Buddy Valastro, 2 p.m. at Market District in Robinson. Free, but register ahead at At 7:30 p.m., he'll do a holiday show at Benedum Center, Downtown; tickets start at $26.50 ($85 gets you a VIP with a meet-and-greet and more) at or 412-456-6666.


Hearts and Hands Gala: Savory foods, wines served by celebrity wine pourers, auctions, music. 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Scotus Hall at Mount Alvernia, Millvale. $50; ages 21 and older only; proceeds benefit Change a Heart's various charitable endeavors.

Sewickley Wine Walk: More than 30 Sewickley businesses each offer a different premium wine for sampling. 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesday in the Sewickley business district. $5 cash registration on the night of the event at 419 Beaver St.

Ballou Skies Champions Gala: Wines from Engine House 25 Wines, auction items and tours of Engine House 25 in Lawrenceville. 6 to 9 p.m. next Thursday, Nov. 8, at Engine House 25. $75 per person; proceeds benefit Duchenne muscular dystrphy research.


McGinnis Sisters, Monroeville, offers classes on making food gifts (1 p.m. Sunday, $30) and brining meats (7 p.m. Nov. 8, $15). To register for either, call 412-858-7000, ext. 7.

Winning chef

In a previous Food Column, we featured Shawn Culp, a culinary instructor at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, who was preparing to compete in his first Culinary Olympics from Oct. 5-19 in Erfurt, Germany.

While Mr. Culp and his team didn't achieve their goal of a gold medal, they acquitted themselves admirably, earning a silver medal for their cold-food display and missing gold by just one point. Mr. Culp's members on the Regional team (sort of a second-string to the National team) were from Illinois, North Carolina, Texas and Florida.

Dine out, help neighbors

California Pizza Kitchen, Ross Park Mall, will hold a canned food drive to benefit North Hills Community Outreach Nov. 5 to 11. Bring 5 boxed or canned items and receive 20 percent off your check. For more information, contact Megan at 412-548-1399.

Thanksgiving on every table

North Hills Community Outreach is collecting food items to create complete Thanksgiving meals to distribute to local families in need. Items that make a meal include: grocery store gift cards of at least $10, large boxes of stuffing mix and instant mashed potatoes, canned cranberry sauce, canned vegetables, easy pumpkin pie mix, evaporated milk, muffin mix, turkey gravy mix and napkins. Donations accepted at NHCO, 1975 Ferguson Road, Hampton, through Nov. 14. For hours, contact Vicki at 412-487-6316, opt. 1, or visit

Candied yams

  • 5 pounds fresh yams, peeled and sliced 1 inch thick
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice or 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.

Transfer to a greased baking dish, cover loosely and bake about 2 hours.

-- Carleen Kenney, owner of North Side's Carmi Family Restaurant, in "Food Lovers' Guide to Pittsburgh" (Globe Pequot, Sept. 2012, $14.95)

More 'Hungry Girl' to chew on

Critics would say Lisa Lillien's food is junk food redux. She'd say it's realistic.

It's not as if you're forced to choose between going out for a 2,000-calorie restaurant meal or eating only organic steamed vegetables, said Ms. Lillien, better known as "Hungry Girl," who will visit Pittsburgh Nov. 12. "My food is the middle ground."

So her cookbook contains pizza recipes, but under the bottled sauce and string cheese lies a portabella crust. The fried chicken recipe is actually pseudo-fried (baked) chicken made with crushed Fiber One cereal (see recipe).

"You can't tell me that's not a better option" than takeout pizza or deep-fried chicken, she said.

She'll sign books at Barnes & Noble in Robinson at 7 p.m. Nov. 12 to promote her new cookbook, the phonebook-sized, 650-recipe "Hungry Girl to the Max!"

Ms. Lillien says she spent years trying to lose the same 10 or 15 pounds, and when she finally did lose them, she decided to share her tips through daily emails. Now she's got 1.2 million subscribers.

She urges people to identify the foods that make them eat too much -- for her it's carbs such as bread and chips, so she just avoids those things most of the time.

"I can eat one M&M and I'm fine, but if eating one makes you eat a bathtub full of M&Ms, don't even eat one," she said.

She also suggests finding something healthful that you do like and then eating a lot of it. For her, it's apples -- she eats one every day.

She sees herself as "helping Americans kick their cravings for things that are really bad for you."

-- Rebecca Sodergren

Onion chicken fingers

  • 1/2 cup Fiber One Original bran cereal
  • 1 tablespoon onion soup/dip seasoning mix
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried minced onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/3 cup fat-free liquid egg substitute
  • 10 ounces raw boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 8 long strips
  • 1/8 teaspoon each salt and black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray.

In a blender or food processor, grind cereal into crumbs. Transfer to a wide bowl and mix in onion soup/dip mix, minced onion and onion powder.

Place egg substitute in another wide bowl. Season chicken with salt and pepper. One at a time, dunk chicken strips in the egg substitute, shake to remove excess and coat with crumbs. Evenly lay on the baking sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes. Flip chicken. Bake until cooked through and crispy, about 8 minutes.

-- Lisa Lillien, "Hungry Girl to the Max!"

Rebecca Sodergren:


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