Kathy Mendelson Horne achieved greatness, making a splash in New York City restaurants as a Paris-trained chef, before returning to raise a family in her native Pittsburgh in the 1990s.
At just 23, the Taylor Allderdice High School alumna followed her studies at George Washington University by flying to France and diving into six weeks of “classical training” at Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne, a Paris school for chefs.
While she never apprenticed at the celebrated French Riviera restaurant Moulin de Mougins — she still admits it’s her dream gig — she did cook for the esteemed Dean & DeLuca and served as a sous chef at a New York City restaurant consulted by American chef Bobby Flay before Flay was famous. And she cooked for the likes of soccer legend Pele and Citibank’s top executives during a “very upscale” corporate catering job in New York City.
She also helped launch the kitchen at Doc’s Place, a former Shadyside restaurant.
Her greatest achievement, though? The warm hosts that her two adult children, both of whom live in London, have become.
“I love that, if I could have one legacy in my life, it would be that I made great cooks of my children,” Horne, a Jewish woman who lives in Shadyside, told the Chronicle.
Horne soon will spread her culinary expertise — again — in the Pittsburgh area. On Wednesday, Nov. 15, she’ll take to Riverside Landing, an Oakmont venue along the banks of the Allegheny, for a special evening of tastings and conversation.
Horne will share her story and provide a mélange of crostini bread and special schmears at Flavors of the World, an event supporting Israel.
The event, which features “unlimited Israeli wine,” starts at 6:30 p.m. and the main event at 7:15 p.m., organizers said. Tickets range from $70 to $500.
Shternie Rosenfeld said “a huge percentage of proceeds” from the annual fundraiser for the Jewish Sisterhood and The Jewish Spark will be donated to the Israeli war effort. The evening will feature Israeli cuisine, as well as foods from countries as far-flung as Japan, the Dominican Republic and India.
But there’s something more important than the food, Rosenfeld stressed.
“Now, more than ever, we need to come together, especially women, especially our Jewish sisters … and have an evening of unity,” she said. “I’m super excited to do this with Chef Kathy.”
The organizations’ previous annual events featured cookbook authors, but Rosenfeld said she wanted to do something a little different this year.
Horne’s looking forward to people peppering her with questions as they taste her food.
“I feel I can impact a lot of fundamental knowledge” about cooking, Horne said. “Any time a nonprofit has asked me, ‘Can you help?’, I do.”
Horne also has loads of stories about the New York City cooking scene in the days before the Food Network.
“There wasn’t that class distinction between the celebrities and the common folk,” she said. “We all hobnobbed together.”
Etti Martel, a Squirrel Hill mother of four, also will be cooking for the Flavors of the World event. The Israeli-American women is preparing some familiar Mediterranean staples, from tahini and rugelach to Israeli salad.
Her secret for the best Israeli salad? Cut all the veggies super thin and always put the tomatoes at the bottom. And stick to some basic seasonings: lemon juice, salt, pepper and olive oil.
“But,” she laughed, “it’s up to your preference.” PJC
Justin Vellucci is a freelance writer living in Pittsburgh.