This month adjunct faculty member Valentina Vavasis, formerly a chef and Pittsburgh Magazine restaurant critic, had the opportunity to explore her foodie side in the second annual Western Pennsylvania Lamb Cook-Off hosted at the Ace Hotel Pittsburgh in East Liberty.
Along with teammates Michael Smalis of Greek Gourmet and Matt Bournias of Pastitsio, Valentina won the People’s Choice Award and was in a three-way tie for the Critic’s Choice Award.
The team prepared classic Greek foods for their winning entry: miniature gyros topped with Pastitsio’s homemade yogurt tzatziki, pickled onions, and chopped tomatoes; grape leaves stuffed with basmati rice, lamb, and herbs; grilled lamb with skordalia (mashed) potatoes; and three different varieties of hummus.
In addition to her B.A. in Architecture from Princeton University and an MBA from the J.L. Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, Valentina also holds a culinary school degree from the Pittsburgh Institute of Culinary Arts and was an anonymous food critic for Pittsburgh Magazine for five years, with several nominations for Golden Quill awards by the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania.