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click to enlarge Going Clubbing
Going Clubbing

Going Clubbing

Summary: The Empress of Local TV News gets an all-access pass to the prestigious Duquesne Club Downtown. Reporter: Sally Wiggin, WTAE Channel 4 Airtime: 3 minutes, 38 seconds on May 14 Highlights: * When anchor Wendy Bell convinces us: "We are the City of Champions, but that moniker doesn't just apply to sports. Pittsburgh has perhaps the best private city club in the country. ... Sally Wiggin gives us the first look with video cameras ever allowed in the kitchen." * When Wiggin boasts, "This club is so private, we couldn't show members dining. It's a standard that goes back to its beginnings, a dinner for President Ulysses S. Grant. And the club's fame still attracts the nation's best chefs, who protect the club's traditions. So we were amazed we got into this elite kitchen." * When she narrates (to some flutey-tooty music), "It was founded in 1873: a private club, whose members have been the movers and shakers of not only Pittsburgh, but the nation. And it has entertained some of the most famous and powerful people in the world. The late Benazir Bhutto, prime minister of Pakistan. The late Johnny Carson. Colin Powell and U.S. presidents." It would have helped the club's prestige if Wiggin had named more movers and shakers who were actually alive to move and shake. * When she introduces us to executive chef Keith Coughenour, "who oversees producing perfection at one of the top kitchens in the country. Remarkably, this was only his second job when it was offered to him in 1992. He was born in Elizabeth, graduated from Penn State, apprenticed and then became sous chef at the famous Greenbriar resort in West Virginia." * When chef Coughenour says, "I think I'm pretty humble. I think you have to be because you're really only as good as the last [meal] you've prepared. People let you know rather quickly if you've not done something to their liking." * When Wiggin rejoices, "So it starts with massive yet meticulous preparations. ... And about 600 meals per day ... requiring the very best in technology." * After Wiggin describes some of this "fascinating" modern equipment (like the "blast chiller/shock freezer"), she remarks, "But in this truly modern kitchen steeped in tradition, technology is married to chemistry, like molecular gastronomy." What We Learned: Johnny Carson was one of the most powerful people in the world! Unanswered Question: Who would ever suspect that a club with the richest clientele in town could afford the best in kitchen gadgetry? News Value: 1. In 1940, Time magazine called the Duquesne Club the "citadel of Pittsburgh tycoonery." Given how Wiggin fawns over the cookies, maybe it's time for a new nickname: the "Club of Macaroonery."

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