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Grow Pittsburgh event offers chance to boost urban agriculture — and stay atop of local food trends

Chef Bill Fuller prepping food at last year's A Taste of Grow Pittsburgh.

Photo courtesy of Grow Pittsburgh

Chef Bill Fuller prepping food at last year's A Taste of Grow Pittsburgh.

Don't bother asking Kate Hickey what's on the menu at this year's A Taste of Grow Pittsburgh fundraiser: "It's a surprise," is about all she'll tell you.

But the operations director for Grow Pittsburgh will say that "Food trends change, so you'll see a crafting of new culinary tastings." Her organization, which promotes urban agriculture, will host its fourth annual fundraiser on Sat., Sept. 22, at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. Organizers expect between 300 and 400 guests, both new and returning, to sample the unique culinary experiences offered by local eateries.

Hickey also divulges that the event will likely highlight some more recent developments in the local food scene, like the rise of craft beer and the proliferation of preservation methods like smoking, fermentation, canning and pickling. "Our chefs are incredibly creative and adventurous," she says. And a new participant in this year's event, Lawrenceville's Cure restaurant, reflects the increasing popularity of charcuterie and artisanal meats.

The $75 ticket price ($60 for Grow Pittsburgh members) gets you a Grow Pittsburgh Mason jar and a wide range of beverages to put inside it: Guests will have access to craft beers donated by Frank B. Fuhrer Wholesale and local wine from Lawrenceville's Engine House 25. You'll also receive an empty plate to fill at 14 different tasting stations. Each station is offered by a restaurant or store partner including: Alma, Avenue B, Casbah, East End Food Co-op, Habitat, Root 174, Square Café and Whole Foods Market.

And the event offers unparalleled access to the faces behind the region's dining and agriculture scene. "Maybe it's your first time experiencing E2," says Hickey, "and you also get a chance to talk to chef Kate Romane," who last year used Braddock Farms' own heirloom tomatoes in a dish.

The event aims to raise around $30,000 to further Grow Pittsburgh's mission: encouraging, and educating people about, urban agriculture through programs such as the Edible Schoolyard and the adult Garden Primer class. Tickets are available through Showclix or at the door, so it's not too late to grab a spot at the table this Saturday. Arrive hungry.

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