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How Eric Johnson Makes Pittsburgh Proud?

E/C (Eric Christopher) catering is simple, elegant and always a corporate event at the Hazelwood Library where Trying Together holds meetings and provide meals courtesy of E/C catering. That is how I came to know of this chef and he can definitely give Julia Child a run for her money! Since I frequent the library more regularly now, just to get a taste of his delicious meals I wanted to know more about Eric Christopher and E/C catering the man behind the toque blanche.

What made you want to create a catering business in Pittsburgh?

Pittsburgh is my home, my roots here are very deep here. I got into this business because of my mom, we were very close and she taught me not to be afraid of food and to try everything, when I was young she would try new recipes and would make just enough for me and her, because my other 6 siblings did not share our adventurous spirit when it came to food.

What is the story of how you became a chef for Trying Together?

I was the executive chef at café called The Lexington Café in the Point Breeze section of the city of Pittsburgh and the café was starting with an endowment from the Heinz foundation.

The mission of the café was to hire and train individuals who were hard to employ…such as handicapped people, people who may have a criminal record. One of the owners of the café was affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh’s Office of Child Development, I started to cater events for UOCD and that’s where I was introduced to the Trying Together organization.

When the café closed in 2012 I continued my relationship with Trying Together till this day.

What are some stereotypes you face in the hospitality industry?

I would say the one and only stereotype I face being African-American is that some people automatically think that you only prepare soul food, there are so many different nationalities and styles of food preparation that I feel it would be a shame to limit yourself.

Any plans to open your own restaurant?

I do not have any plans to open up a restaurant, catering is my one and only love.

Would you ever compete on a reality cooking show?

I really do not like reality cooking shows, They are not entertaining to me. When you live with the pressure of providing quality food and service to your clients the last thing you want to do is relive that pressure when you sit down to watch TV. I love to cook and I think it should be done carefully and with love and not rushed.

What sets you apart from other chefs?

That is a difficult question to answer because I don’t know many other chefs. All I can say is that I care about every little detail in the process of creating a dish. I assume most chefs feel that way.

What do you want your legacy to be when you retire?

Most of my clients are in the family services field or early childhood education and some of them either have small budgets or they have trouble with attracting the people they want to help without being able to provide meals for the event.

So I would like my legacy to be that I played a small part in making a child or a family’s life a little better and that I didn’t just take, but I gave back also.

To book E/C Catering for your upcoming events, he can be reached at chriscatering@hotmail.com.

*This article was edited on February 26, 2018, to update the name of the company being mentioned to Trying Together, and to also clarify that free meals aren’t always provided at all of the events being held by the organization.

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