Story by Drew Cranisky // Photography by Adam Milliron
Most restaurateurs spend a lot of time trying to keep bugs out of the kitchen. Don Mahaney, on the other hand, spends his time thinking about new ways to bring them in.
Mahaney is the owner of Scratch Food & Beverage, a community-focused restaurant that opened in Troy Hill in 2015. Scratch is the first restaurant in Pittsburgh (and one of only a handful in the country) to give insects a prime spot on their menu. While you may have bought a scorpion lollipop from a gift shop or eaten a fried cricket to gross out a friend, Scratch’s decision to bug out is motivated by more than novelty.
“Edible insects offer a sustainable protein source for an ever hungrier world,” explains Kevin Bachhuber in a recent TEDxTalk. Bachhuber, the founder and CEO of Big Cricket Farms, became interested in raising insects for consumption after a trip to Thailand, where roasted insects are popular bar snacks and street fare. Initially enamored with the taste, Bachhuber soon discovered that crickets and other insects could help relieve some of the intense environmental pressures of modern industrial agriculture. “They use a fraction of the food, water, and space used by traditional livestock, like chickens, cows and pigs,” he notes.