Photo by Sabrina Romano

The annual Northside Common Ministries Food Pantry Brunch Challenge served up some chef specials along with a vibrant atmosphere Saturday, Jan. 31 at the New Hazlett Theater in Allegheny Center. 

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By Sabrina Romano
By Sabrina Romano
By Sabrina Romano
By Sabrina Romano
By Sabrina Romano
By Sabrina Romano
By Sabrina Romano
By Sabrina Romano
By Sabrina Romano
By Sabrina Romano
By Sabrina Romano
By Sabrina Romano

By Sabrina Romano

The New Hazlett Theater in Northside’s Allegheny Center transformed into a Western saloon with a blue grass band, dancing guests donning cowboy hats, and red picnic tablecloths for the annual Northside Common Ministries (NCM) Food Pantry Brunch Challenge Saturday, Jan. 31. But delicious brunch treats served up by 10 local chefs were the main attraction.

Roughly 250 people came to taste dishes strictly made with ingredients from the NCM’s food pantry. All proceeds benefited the community food pantry which serves over 1,000 individuals and families every month.

NCM director Jay Polizani has organized the event for the past four years.

“(The event) connects directly to our mission to help serve the poor,” Polizani said.

Chefs from Whole Foods and Thai Me Up were among the chefs that came out to support the event.

Barbara McGonigal, a chef from Whole Foods made breakfast strata and oatmeal for her entry. She said it wasn’t difficult serving up tasty treats made with food one would find in a food pantry.

“Some of the best food is the simplest,” McGonigal said. “You can do so much with oatmeal and left over bread.”

Noi Chaisri, a chef and co-business owner of Thai Me Up, cooked up vegetable fried rice and red Thai curry for the event. Unlike McGonigal, Chaisri had a difficult time using ingredients only found in a food pantry.

“It was a challenge to find the ingredients in the pantry for Thai food,” Chaisri said.

Kim Banks, a resident of South Side, said she enjoyed the event.

“Supporting this organization doesn’t have to be hard work,” Banks said.

That is exactly what the NCM proved with its Food Pantry Brunch Challenge.