From Christianity Today:
Chef Nikki Heckmann’s Bistro To Go offers tasty ingredients to revitalize Pittsburgh’s North Side neighborhood.
On any given day between 11am and 7pm, locals can watch Nikki Heckmann ply her craft at Bistro To Go, the eclectic café the chef launched in 2007 in the North Side neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Just peer over the glass cases into the open kitchen, and you’ll find her stirring her famous tomato basil soup or coaching a young employee on how to make salmon croquettes. Both scenes would reflect Heckmann’s motivation behind opening the café in 2007: her heart for sharing the gospel with those outside the church, and her desire to bring revitalization to a community she has come to call home. And simply, she says, “I love to cook.”
Chef Nikki was loved into the faith by an urban congregation, Allegheny Center Alliance Church (ACAC), which welcomed her probing questions and didn’t turn her away for running a bar and living with her boyfriend. Five years at ACAC, including volunteering with the youth group, finally brought the message of Jesus home to her. Having received mercy, Heckmann now has a heart for seekers. At Bistro—which one Pittsburgh food critic described as furnished “by the International House of Whimsy”—Heckmann says she’s creating “a missional lab” outside the church walls where everyone from the homeless guy to the downtown businessman can connect. To entice folks in, she deliberately offers pan-global cuisine.