They are the champions.
Thirty-one opponents and thousands of votes later, St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church in McKeesport has won the 2020 Ultimate Pittsburgh Fish Fry Bracket, capping an unusual and abbreviated fish fry season with a resounding victory.
More than 2,410 votes came in for St. Sava — billed as the oldest Serbian Orthodox Church in the Eastern United States — in the final round. We assume this raptor was responsible for at least one of them.
Runner-up Keith Heinritz Katering of Trafford put up a formidable fight. Here’s a high-res PDF of the bracket to catch up on the competition.
While other powerhouses emerged early in the bracket, St. Sava absolutely dominated in the later rounds.
Dianne “DeeDee” Baskot, St. Sava’s fish fry chair, didn’t know this when told of their victory on Thursday. She was surprised by the news and moved to tears.
“It’s nice that people showed that they love something and love coming to our church,” she said. “We work very hard, but it’s also very rewarding.”
Dianne added: “The church does this mostly to bring our people together. It keeps us connected. And while this year’s shutdown financially affects the church, it also affects our camaraderie with each other. But I’m immunosuppressed, so I get it. I understand staying home and washing your hands.”
If you’re wondering what St. Sava’s secret is, so were we.
Dianne said it might have something to do with the fact that they haven’t changed the recipe since opening in 2007 or that they use haddock instead of cod — up to 350 pounds of it a week — which she says is a lighter and whiter fish. Interestingly, our 2018 winner Ancient Order of Hibernians Division #32 – Sean MacBride also uses haddock instead of cod.
It could also be that they hand-bread the pieces seconds before frying and only fry to order. Maybe it’s the Serbian specialities they offer as sides. Maybe it’s the hand-made crab cakes. Most likely it’s all of the above.
Things are idled now, but Dianne says they plan to be back at it next year — with a new Ultimate Pittsburgh Fish Fry title to tout.
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