A longtime progressive dinner inspires a how-to book | Restaurant Reviews | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

A longtime progressive dinner inspires a how-to book

Gab Cody and Sam Turich explore The Joy of Progressive Dinners

Gab Cody and Sam Turich moved from Brooklyn to Lawrenceville in 2007, and immediately were welcomed with an invitation to a tradition already a quarter-century old: the neighborhood’s progressive dinner. Today, that peripatetic party — each course is eaten at a different house — draws 150 neighbors, and Cody and Turich have attended the annual event all but once. In 2014, they even released an homage: their feature-length independent film Progression, a rather saucy screwball comedy shot in the neighborhood.

Now comes their book The Joy of Progressive Dinners: A Gourmet Guide to Friendmaking. The self-published 80-pager — which slyly and with much wordplay parodies that 1970s cultural touchstone The Joy of Sex — is a guide to creating one’s own progressive dinner. It comes complete with tips, recipes (by contributors including chef Justin Severino), and illustrations by Lawrenceville prog-dinner pioneer Mary Mazziotti. The advice ranges from how long to leave for each course to how to handle the panoply of dietary restrictions you’ll encounter.

On promoting the dinner: “Gently reach for your neighbors, being careful to first gain their consent. Slowly massage your contact list of interested neighbors. Languidly work your way toward social media: Facebook groups and other sites like Nextdoor (but not Tindr, Grindr or Yinzr). If you’re ready to invite new partners, entrust neighbors to tempt their contact as well.”

The paperback book ($29.99) is available on Amazon and at www.createspace.com, and at Butler Street boutique Wildcard. Bonus: a free DVD of the smartly made Progression with each copy. (The idea for the book actually came from a distributor whom they were trying to interest in the film.)

Cody and Turich, theater artists by trade, note that they’re not trying to recruit for the Lawrenceville dinner, which is strictly for Lawrencevillians. As Turich says, “The idea behind the book is you can do it — you just can’t do the one in our neighborhood.”

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