Learn more about 'Burgh Bits and Bites
Sylvia, Founder and Tour Guide
Sylvia is a first-generation Pittsburgher, who spent her formative years in the South Hills. Her family roots extend across Switzerland and Germany and her language skills include English, German and Swiss-German (yes…it is a language!).
In the early nineties she decided to explore her family's European roots and headed for her father's native country of Switzerland. Once there, what was meant to be just a few months visit ended up becoming an eight year sojourn. During her time living and working in the "old country" Sylvia explored the myriad regions of Europe from Alsacian vineyards to Greek beaches, Italian islands to French
countrysides and everywhere in between - soaking up the unique sights, sounds and flavors along the way.
Once Sylvia returned to the US, she set about re-discovering her hometown with its own many offerings and rich history. Her most recent job back home was as Assistant Director, Business Development for Executive Education at Katz Graduate School of Business. Soon thereafter she began volunteering with the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation (PHLF) as a tour guide.
It seemed only natural then to combine a love of good food, an affection for the 'Burgh and her skills as a tour guide into specialized walking tours highlighting Pittsburgh's best bits and tastiest bites.
Sylvia currently resides west of Pittsburgh with her husband and their two children. She is very active in her community, and passionate about community service. She serves on the board of VisitPITTSBURGH, the Swiss American Society of Pittsburgh and is a committee member of Destination Greater Pittsburgh. Through her volunteer and business efforts Sylvia’s been named a Pittsburgh Magazine “40 under 40”, awarded the “2011 Legends of the Strip, Main Street Award”, and recognized as a “ 2015 Sheraton Celebration of Champions” honoree.
"When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude." — G. K. Chesterton
Gabe, Tour Guide Emeritus
Gabe is a life-long Pittsburgh resident who taught for over 30 years in the Pittsburgh Public School system as a homebound teacher for special needs students. Since retirement, Gabe has pursued his interest in the history and architecture of Pittsburgh through his involvement with Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation (PHLF).
Sylvia and Gabe initially met while conducting a PHLF tour. She encouraged him to become involved in the Strip food tours. The unique quality of these food businesses appealed to Gabe for many reasons, one being: "I have a great time giving these tours, it brings back fond memories of my grandfather who
owned a grocery store and would visit the Strip to buy goods."
Gabe is married to Karen and has a son, Paul, a daughter, Amanda, and three grandchildren.
"The more you know, the more you love, and by loving more, the more you enjoy." — St. Catherine of Siena
Kim, Tour Manager
Kimberly was born and raised in New Brighton, a northern suburb of Pittsburgh. During her twenties she traveled throughout the country for work and pleasure. During her travels she made great food memories. “Food has always been a delicious way to bring people together whether at work or play.” Sylvia invited her on the inaugural Strip District Tour as a tour tester and since that initial tour, Kim has been an integral part of the research aspect for all new tours. “Trying new foods, learning local culture and history while socializing is such a fantastic combination.”
Currently, Kimberly and her husband often travel throughout the US and Caribbean. Soon they'll be broadening their travels to Europe and beyond. “We love finding and trying new foodie experiences, and are constantly researching new places to visit.” With Kim's Italian heritage, she has a love for Italian foods. She also enjoys Mexican, Asian, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine.
Kim loves being a part of the Burgh Bits & Bites team. “Each tour brings many parts of the world a little closer together and I love it!”
Kimberly resides west of Pittsburgh with her husband and daughter. Her older son is attending Arizona State University.
“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt.” ― Charles M. Schulz
Corinne, Tour Guide
Corinne is a Pennsylvania native and University of Pittsburgh graduate who has lived in Pittsburgh for over 15 years. She currently works as the Director of Tourism at Rivers of Steel Heritage Tours and creates customized tour itineraries for bus groups visiting the Pittsburgh region from all over the United States and Canada. Corinne got her start in Pittsburgh tourism with 'Burgh Bits and Bites and believes that exploring the food in a neighborhood is one of the best ways to experience the culture of the community.
Corinne loves to travel, most recently to the Middle East and Africa, but also loves being a tourist in her own city!
"If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world." ― J.R.R. Tolkien
Richard, Tour Guide
Richard is a native of Pittsburgh. He worked in education as a history teacher, principal, school superintendent, and assistant professor of history at the university level for 37 years. He is an avid historian, earning his Doctorate from Carnegie Mellon University. While serving as a docent with Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation he met Gabe, who encouraged him to explore working with Sylvia. He leads tours in the Strip District, Bloomfield, and the Northside (Deutschtown), referring to Pittsburgh neighborhoods as windows to the world...with great food!!!
Richard loves to travel with his family, having had extended stays in Italy, England, Ireland, Scotland, and China.
Richard and his wife Valerie have four daughters, Hilary, Heather, Hayley, and Halyse, and a granddaughter, Vera.
Richard was recently featured in this article regarding the Northside tour: https://bit.ly/2NRc2NU
"We are each of us angels with only one wing. And we can only fly embracing each other." — Luciano DeCrescenzo
Beth, Tour Guide
Beth is a Pittsburgh-based food writer whose work has appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, CraftPittsburgh and her blog www.bethkurtztaylor.com.
Sharing stories about the people and traditions behind regional foods is often the focus of her writing. Since 2012, she has been with 'Burgh Bits and Bites leading food tours in the Strip District, Lawrenceville, Bloomfield and Allentown. Behind the scenes, she blogs for us and helps with tour development. Beth holds a Master of Arts in Food Studies from Chatham University and lives in Penn Township with her son Ted and a plethora of cookbooks.
"Be joyful because it is humanly possible." ― Wendell Berry
Cheryl, Tour Guide
Upon arriving in Pittsburgh in 1992 Cheryl and her husband found the Strip District and fell in love with it!
"For me, the Strip District was a throwback to growing up in the Bronx, NYC. It was an explosion of ethnic culture and incredible foods." Her travels have included Spain (studied in Madrid), Mexico, Trinidad/Tobago, Canada, Caribbean Islands and more than half of America presenting her the opportunity to experience many culinary delights indigenous to those places!She marvels at the city's transformation from the "Great Industrial Steel Days" to a place that is vibrant & current, yet still maintains its rich diverse cultural heritage.
That heritage includes many delectable recipes passed down from generation to generation. Sharing snippets of Pittsburgh's rich history and her zeal for food with others is a match made in heaven.
Cheryl earned a BA in Communications at S.U.N.Y. Oswego & a Teacher Certification at Chatham University which led to teaching in the West Hills Area for many years. She and her husband have a son and daughter. Faith, family, education, cooking, service, and travel are at the heart of her DNA.
"And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." — Abraham Lincoln
Valerie, Tour Guide
Valerie is a Pittsburgh native, and originally from the Gibsonia area. She is also a (2000) graduate from Duquesne University School of Education, and holds a Master's degree in Psychology in Education from The University of Pittsburgh. She currently works as Special Education teacher in the Woodland Hills School district.
While her roots and deep love for everything food-related originate in Pittsburgh (especially charcuterie and cheese plates), she has a passion for travel.
She not only enjoys trying new food around Pittsburgh (and the world!), she also enjoys growing it. She currently manages a garden at the Woodland Hills Administration Building. Valerie was recently featured in this article and video written by Doug Oster of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Valerie currently lives in the Swissvale area and is also the dedicated tour guide for the Farm to Table Partnership Tour.
"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." — Virginia Woolf
Jackie, Tour Guide
Jackie is a lover of language and travel, people and Pittsburgh-- a consummate extrovert! She is a born and bred Pittsburgher, having returned and stayed from a 10 year hiatus in California. She has a degree in French (with a minor in Spanish and a bit of Russian) from Monterey Institute of International Studies.
She has worked for a total of 15 years as a travel agent, of course enjoying the commensurate world travel opportunities.
She has owned a dance studio, teaching all forms of dance to kids through adults and doing extensive local high school choreography (Gene Kelly Award!).
All of this has brought her to her most recent and MOST enjoyable career as a Pittsburgh tour guide!
This has included the Pittsburgh version of the London double decker tour buses, a position as official guide on the Duquesne Incline (in English AND French), and as a step-on guide doing theme and extensive city tours.
Now she is very happily exploring and sharing the wonderful food and the interesting history of lovely Pittsburgh neighborhoods with Burgh Bits and Bites food tours!
"We shall not cease from exploration, and at the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and to know the place for the first time." — T.S. Eliot
Karen, Tour Guide
Karen loves eating and Pittsburgh so being a guide for food tours is a natural for her!
Taught by her Dad to try new foods, she loves to cook and experiment in the kitchen. Playing with recipes is a hobby that blossomed during her time as an instructor at Crate, a cooking school in the South Hills.
After a career in continuing medical education at Shadyside Hospital, Karen worked with the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. The last 11 years she was the Education Coordinator leading walking tours all over Pittsburgh for people of all ages.
Karen holds degrees from Ohio Wesleyan University and the University of Illinois. Her husband, Mike, is a retired Duquesne University history professor. Their daughter and son-in-law live in the Washington D.C. area.
As a guide for Burgh Bits and Bites, Karen gets to combine her love of food and love of Pittsburgh –– What can be better than sharing the story of each unique neighborhood through its food!
“Food tells you everything about the way people live and who they are.” Martin Scorcese
Mary, Tour Guide
Born in the thick of the steel mill era amidst the cultural revolution in the 1960s, Mary was raised in the South Hills of Pittsburgh and spent much of her time as a teenager biking around Pittsburgh neighborhoods.
As a college graduate, she lived with her aunt, a cook notorious in the family for using copious amounts of butter and rum in baking, and it was then that Mary discovered her love of cooking, baking, and talking with whoever was sitting in her kitchen.
She feels most at home when her house is filled with friends and family, crowded around her kitchen island, nibbling, or “grazing” as she and her family affectionately refer to it, and trading stories that sometimes elevate to screams of laughter. “Food always tastes better with a story,” she says.
Mary raised her three children with her husband Doug in the West Hills of Pittsburgh. “My kids have all lived in different areas of the country at different times,” she says. “One of my favorite things as they have aged into adults is when they bring their friends from other cities here for a weekend, and I get to take the newcomers around the city and show them the best places to eat.”
After spending eighteen years working in early childhood, Mary decided to make this hobby something more permanent, sharing her love for the city, its people, and most importantly its food with newcomers and locals. Mary’s favorite Pittsburgh landmark is the statue of Fred Rogers on the North Shore, and she prides herself on her ability to park anywhere.
“Try your best to make goodness attractive. That’s one of the toughest assignments you’ll ever be given.” — Fred Rodgers
Marla, Tour Guide
Marla is new to the Pittsburgh area, having originally lived and grown up in the Midwest. From the minute she moved here, she couldn't stop exploring the history and culture of this unique town. She quickly fell in love with the people, food, arts, and history of Pittsburgh.
Food and cooking have always been a passion for Marla. No matter what she was doing in life, she always found an excuse to take a cooking class, try a new recipe, or discover a new restaurant. Having the opportunity to combine her love of food with her love of Pittsburgh as a Burgh Bits & Bites tour guide is the perfect scenario for her.
Marla spent many years working in the restaurant industry, but her most recent talents include finding unique and exciting meals that her family will eat!! Marla, her husband John, and their 3 kids currently live in the Fox Chapel area.
'If life were predictable it would cease to be life, and be without flavor.' — Eleanor Roosevelt
Emma, Tour Guide
Emma is originally from Oakland, California, and has made many different cities home, but has been in Pittsburgh since the summer of 2021 and is so thrilled to be living here! One of her favorite things to do is walk around the city. Emma feels that it is one of the best ways to get to know the many neighborhoods in the Burgh.
She attended Denison University (2017) where she studied International Studies and Education, which brought her to study in Jordan and many Middle East countries to further her studies in Arabic. Following graduation, she spent time teaching in New Orleans before moving to NYC to earn her Master’s in Social Work at Columbia University. She now runs a workforce training program and provides case management.
Emma went on her first ‘Burgh Bits and Bites tour of Lawrenceville on a visit to Pittsburgh in January 2020. She loved how it highlighted the neighborhood and its history. When Emma moved to Pittsburgh she contacted Sylvia and quickly began her training. She is very excited to now be leading the first tour she went on in Lawrenceville! She hopes to share her enthusiasm for Pittsburgh, its history, and its food with all of you.
“Try not to resist the changes that come your way. Instead let life live through you. And do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?” — Rumi
Amaan, Tour Guide
Amaan is a native of Detroit, Michigan who came to Pittsburgh in 2018. He recently graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a BA in Spanish and will start medical school there in the Fall.
While not a native “Yinzer”, he has fallen in love with everything the city offers. His favorite thing about Pittsburgh is the noticeable compassion and kindness with which people treat each other. Some of his favorite places to find food are Pennsylvania Macaroni Co., Masala House, and the Porch.
He is currently working as a prep cook and youth soccer coach. During his free time, he loves cooking, being outdoors, trying new things, traveling, and spending time with friends and family. Being a tour guide combines his passion for Pittsburgh with his interest in exploring the food scene with others.
Amaan currently resides in Oakland with his friends. He has a younger brother in high school who he is trying very hard to convince to come to college in Pittsburgh.
“Whatever you do, always give 100%. Unless you’re donating blood.” — Bill Murray