“A lover of good food. Someone who takes pleasure in eating and drinking.”
Dave Forman — also known by his food blog, David the Gastronome — is the host of the new Very Local show, “Plate It, Pittsburgh.”
The show, much like Forman’s food blog, is a love letter to Pittsburgh.
For those unfamiliar with the City of Bridges, it might seem like a rundown steel city with nothing much to offer visitors — especially by way of food. But there’s a lot more to the food scene than just pierogies and sandwiches topped with French fries (though who can resist Primanti’s famous sandwich piled high with grilled meat, fries, coleslaw, cheese, and tomatoes?).
In fact, the food scene is booming — teeming with up-and-coming chefs alongside established chefs that have been heating up the food scene for decades. It’s also a food scene that is evolving, much like the city. Just as steel mills gave way to technology, health care, and finance, where you used to see chains like Applebee’s, now you see ethnic joints — small restaurants with chefs putting a spin on the foods they grew up eating.
That’s why, despite the fact that Forman has been to Michelin-starred restaurants across the globe — from Tokyo and Paris to Brussels and Amsterdam — he still prefers a meal in his hometown.
Forman was born and raised in Pittsburgh and food was always a big part of his life. While many children would come home from school and watch cartoons or veg out on the weekends with the latest kids’ show, Forman watched cooking shows and game shows. Before shows like “Iron Chef” and “Chopped” popped up on the Food Network, Forman was watching cooking shows, “Supermarket Sweep,” and “Shop ‘til You Drop.”
Despite his love for Pittsburgh, he decided to venture off to Cleveland to attend college. For a while, he wanted to do marine biology because he was good at math and science. He quickly learned that wasn’t right for him and ended up graduating with degrees in psychology and cinema studies.
And then he went back home to Pittsburgh. Because not only is Pittsburgh a great food city — full of equally great people and opportunities — it’s the perfect gateway to other cities and countries. And travel he has.
In his years of eating across the world, he’s found that what makes a restaurant stand out isn’t just the chef behind the scenes (though that obviously has a lot to do with it). It’s about seeing the gorgeous Pittsburgh skyline as you dine, or hearing the smack of noodles as they’re made fresh in front of you. It’s about one bite transporting you to another time, another place.
“There’s only a certain number of scientific combinations you can make,” he said. “There is a finite number of dishes. But it’s all about the experience. It’s about where you are, who you’re with, who’s cooking it for you, who’s working that night…The more unique the experience the more it resonates with me.”
His nine-to-five might be in finance, but food is his true passion. When given the chance to host “Plate It, Pittsburgh,” he jumped on the opportunity.
“It’s such a beautiful treat. Being able to share my love of food with the national stage is a dream come true,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to write about food. I’ve always wanted to talk about food. Food is a great connector.”
In each episode, viewers get to watch two local chefs go head-to-head as they race against the clock to create a unique three-course meal. The ingredients are sourced from a different local neighborhood marketplace each week. The prize money is donated to a local charity of the chef’s choosing.
The show isn’t just fun, it’s a travel video. “You get to travel with us. All these parts of Pittsburgh, all these different types of food, different types of cuisine, different chefs cooking from different backgrounds…they take us on a journey,” he said. “You get to taste Pittsburgh without being there.”
When asked if he’s a chef himself, Forman just laughs. Baking he can do, but he leaves the cooking to the professionals.
“Baking is a science,” he said, “but cooking is an art.”
So for now, he’s more than happy to indulge in the fine cuisine the city has to offer him — whether that’s a slice of meatball pie at Mineo’s or indulging in a fancy meal at Altius on Mount Washington.