Pittsburgh chef Kevin Sousa, a Food & Wine People’s Best New Chef nominee, wins raves for his inventive, irreverent cooking. With his first three restaurants, he’s also shown a penchant for braving the city’s rougher neighborhoods. Now he’s working to revive an entire town with help from a Kickstarter campaign that ends on Monday.
Braddock, Pennsylvania, is a onetime steel boomtown 20 minutes east of Pittsburgh. It’s fallen on such hard times that a 2009 Rolling Stone profile called its charismatic tattooed mayor, John Fetterman, the “mayor of hell.” The town is also a food desert: “You can’t get a bag of chips, you can’t get a bottle of water,” Sousa says. “The nearest food outlet is two miles away. You have to cross a bridge and take a bus.”
Fetterman introduced the chef to Braddock, and offered him a restaurant location rent-free—a former car dealership called Superior Motors, built in 1921. (Fetterman owns the building, and lives in the top-floor loft with his family.)