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A new executive chef at Café Phipps brings a firm commitment to eating local and seasonal 

"It's going to be really exciting in spring and summer, when things start coming up."

In 2012, Amy Tyner's spouse was diagnosed with cancer. "We're all clean right now," says Tyner. But, as a chef, Tyner grew interested in healthy eating, and "what these processed foods and engineered seeds are doing." Her new job echoes that concern.

In November, Tyner became executive chef at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens' Café Phipps. Given the café's devotion to health and environmental sustainability, she says, "I could professionally really dive into something I was already committing myself to."

Tyner doesn't just plan menus at the café, which refuses to serve pop or fries. She also works with vendors to get food that's minimally processed, as local and seasonal as possible, and often organic. The results include winter dishes like Phipps' wild mushroom and arugula salad, with roasted butternut squash, farro and white balsamic vinaigrette. Even in January, she says, "You are still eating really good flavorful foods as long as you stay in the season you're in."

Tyner, formerly executive chef and director of food and beverage for Four Points by Sheraton Pittsburgh North, especially appreciates the hyperlocal food from Phipps' edible gardens. In the winter garden's first year, "We were picking kumquats" earlier on the January day she spoke to CP. They're also still harvesting spinach, endive and tatsoy.

"As a chef, it's been an incredible education," she says. "It's going to be really exciting in spring and summer, when things start coming up."

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