March 16, 2018

At 6:04 p.m., a cry for garlic punctured the din of 15 voices in various stages of panic, with cleavers pounding, knives fast-tapping toward deadline.

“Keep it moving, y’all!” A blender roared, plantains sizzled. “Need olive oil!” “Knives behind you!” Chop-chop-chop-chop. “C’mon Yellow Team, big push right here!”

Upstairs, a crowd was gathering in the theater at the Ryan Arts Center in McKees Rocks for the long-awaited Steel Chef Cook-Off — a recent live cooking competition of three teams, each consisting of two chefs and three students from area high schools.

The cookoff was a fundraiser for Focus on Renewal, an organization founded in 1969 to support McKees Rocks and Stowe. It sold 105 tickets at $20 each. Including a raffle, it raised $4,000 for its teen programs, which include cooking classes, said Peter Spynda, the director of arts and culture.


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