'Hungry:' A Food Writer's Memoir About Saying Yes

Sep 16, 2019

On today's program: A food writer follows a cast extraordinary chefs around the world, and casts his sights on Pittsburgh; a local group is teaching families how to advocate for quality medical care; Allegheny County sees its first jury conviction using a 30-year-old law; and citizens could be responsible for redrawing state legislative districts—if lawmakers are willing to give that up.

How reinvention inspires us, from the fork to the pen
(0:00 — 16:55) 

Writer and author Jeff Gordinier says a cold call about tacos led to a series of life-altering trips with world renowned chef Rene Redzepi. 

In his new book "Hungry: Eating, Road-Tripping, and Risking It All with the Greatest Chef in the World," Gordinier writes Redzepi is a master at reinvention in a way that inspires people like himself to tag along. Redzepi's iconic property Noma is consistently rated among the best restaurants in the world, earning two Michelin stars and spawning pop-up offerings in Japan, London, Mexico and more. It's during Gordinier's time with the chef's team that Redzepi decided to close Noma in 2017.

"He decided to close it instead of coasting for another 20 or 30 years," he tells The Confluence's Megan Harris, "and to build a new one on a site that essentially looked like something out of Chernobyl." 

Redzepi's creations go beyond normal food, Gordinier says, opening the palate to a marriage of flavor, texture and experience wholly unknown outside Noma's walls and deserving of its $350+ per meal price tag. Noma 2.0 opened in February 2018; Gordinier says he's currently contemplating his eighth trip to Copenhagen to eat there again.

Getting quality care could be about asking the right questions
(21:42 — 30:26) 

Staci Flint had trouble finding medical care for her son, so she created Kyle's Hope to better advocate for herself and other families with terminally ill loved ones. Flint spoke with 90.5 WESA’s Elaine Effort about her experience.

First-of-its-kind conviction matters, but may not lead to more
(21:42 — 30:26) 

An Allegheny County jury issued its first conviction on the charge "drug delivery resulting in death" last week after text messages directly linked the dealer to the fentanyl-laced heroine he sold a man who later died. It's the first of its kind in the law's 30-year history and made possible by recent legal revisions, WESA legal analyst David Harris says.

Harris, professor of law at the University of Pittsburgh and host of the Criminal Injustice podcast, says prosecutors can often prove that someone died of an overdose, and they can prove that someone deals drugs, but only rarely can they draw a direct connection between the two. The district attorney’s office said in email that they've pursued the charge in other cases, but the defendants either pleaded guilty or agreed to lesser charges.

Harris says the conviction is noteworthy, but there will still be a very high bar to prove causation and convict again.

Will legislators give up their power to the people?
(30:30 — 39:14) 

State legislators returning to session Tuesday will be asked to consider recommendations from a study on redistricting in the commonwealth

Mike Wereschagin, investigative reporter for The Caucus, says the core of the suggestions came from an 11-member commission that recommended turning the responsibility over to citizens. He says there's more willingness than in years past, but it's not a done deal. No bills including these recommendations have been introduced.

90.5 WESA's Avery Keatley and Julia Zenkevich contributed to this program.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.