Inside an Etna kitchen, Olive Beals makes 500 pierogies a week. If you’re picturing a little, old babushka lady, think again.
The 28-year-old force behind Polska Laska is a former bartender who dances to techno music while she works.
“My mom calls it Club Pierogi,” Beals says with a laugh.
Beals grew up on a farm in Franklin, where her Polish heritage took center stage in the kitchen. Her great-grandmother taught her how to make the traditional dumplings with a braided edge, even though the matriarch was non-verbal due to dementia. Cooking was her love language.
Beals worked in restaurants, including Eleven, while studying at Chatham University. Eventually, her interest in the local dining scene detoured her public relations career path.
When Beals lost her job due to the Covid shutdown, the enterprising foodie — and daughter of a physician — decided to use her culinary skills to help feed people during the pandemic.
At the beginning of 2022, she officially launched Polska Laska, which is slang for “Polish Chick.” Every Monday or Tuesday, she posts a new menu on Instagram. Pierogies by the dozen range in price from $20 to $30 depending on the filling and can be ordered via direct message. Customers can pick up the pasta pockets on Sundays in Etna or arrange to have them delivered for a small fee.
Beals has created more than 100 varieties; among the most popular are potato and smoked cheddar, sauerkraut, and Buffalo chicken. Since sustainability is important to her, she uses local ingredients that are in season. The pierogies are sold fresh and ready to be pan-fried but can also be frozen for about three months.
Currently, she Beals one wholesale account: Golden Age Beer at 337 E. 8th Ave. in Homestead regularly serves the Polska Laska brand. Beals will host a pierogi pop-up at the brewery from Wednesday, May 25, through Friday, May 27 (4 to 9 p.m.).
Beals hopes to get her products into more restaurants, and eventually, she’d love to open her own café with a market specializing in Polish goods — and possibly techno music playing in the background.
“I’m lucky that I got to have my grandparents in my life to teach me this skill,” she says. “I feel blessed to have that heritage and I’m connected to it. I know that this business can be a community staple because I care about Pittsburgh and the people in it.”