Thursday, February 15, 2018

Chengdu Gourmet's Wei Zhu semifinalist for 2018 James Beard Award in Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic category.

By Laura Petrilla for Pittsburgh Magazine

Chengdu Gourmet's Wei Zhu has been named a semifinalist for a 2018 James Beard Award in the category of Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic. Zhu, who opened Chengdu Gourmet in Squirrel Hill in 2014, was a semi-finalist last year and is among 20 others in the category this year. His restaurant was named one of Pittsburgh Magazine's Best Restaurants in 2016 and 2017, and Zhu was one of six local chefs recognized by the magazine for his contributions to the local culinary scene:
“The food here is my style, Wei Zhu’s style,” says Zhu, 49, a native of the city of Chengdu in China’s Sichuan province.

A recently added beef soup dish combines traditional Sichuan elements such as garlic, ginger, pea shoots and Sichuan peppercorns, but it also is served with Japanese ramen noodles and dressed with fresh and pickled jalapeño peppers. Or there’s Zhu’s addictive Chinese winter sausage, an item on the menu for only a few months of the year. The rich, fatty links are enhanced with organ meat and ferment into funky, delicious bites as they age.

“At other Chinese restaurants, they just make the same dishes. I am always trying to keep updated on what chefs are doing in China,” he says.