Players were cooking for a cause

It's become a tradition every October for the Steelers.

It's an opportunity to give back, to show their support for those in the community going through the battle against breast cancer and those who have survived the horrible disease.

While this year it was a little bit different, the sentiment was the same as it always has been when Stephon Tuitt and Ulysees Gilbert III took part in the Annual Healthy Cooking Demo for UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital for breast cancer survivors and current patients of the hospital's cancer program.

"My mom is a breast cancer survivor; my great aunt was a two-time breast cancer survivor," Gilbert shared with the group. "It's a big month for me, it's close to my heart because it's right here at home. I just want to do anything I can.

"I just want to do everything I can for cancer and breast cancer and help any way I can."

While the players normally take part in a cooking competition in person, this year it was virtual with the patients at the hospital, while the players cooked in the cafeteria at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.

"I don't have anybody in my family who has breast cancer, but I have been doing this event for a while," said Tuitt. "I love representing women. I love to take my time to help and make you guys laugh. You guys are the real warriors. I appreciate being here to make you laugh and smile."

The players competed against each other making omelets, something Steelers executive chef Kevin Blinn chose for them to prepare as it's something all chefs must do in culinary school.

"We wanted to showcase what they can do, instead of on the field in the kitchen," said Blinn. "One of the first things you do in culinary school is learn how to make an omelet. They passed. They did a nice job."

Tuitt chose to go with the meaty omelet, adding in sausage, ham, bacon, spinach, mushrooms, and bell peppers for a little bit of color. Gilbert went with the veggie omelet, while Tuitt joked that it just wasn't enough without the meat.

In the end, though, while there was no real vote, Blinn declared Gilbert the winner, especially after some impressive moves with flipping his omelet.

While the main purpose of the cooking class is to provide the patients and survivors with healthy cooking options, it's also a great escape for them and an opportunity for them to connect with the players, which they were able to do through a fun Q & A session.

And the questions weren't just about football. Actually, only one was, which was directed at Tuitt asking him which he liked better, playing for Notre Dame or the Steelers.

"I like playing for both," said Tuitt. "Of course, I like playing for the Steelers because I get paid to do what I do. Both have great traditions, fans and football. If I have to choose one, it would be the Steelers."

While the cooking today was healthy, one of the ladies wanted to know what their favorite 'cheat meal' is.

For Gilbert, the answer was quick.

"Wings and pizza," he said.

Tuitt got into the spirit of the season a bit.

"I like donuts, chips," said Tuitt.

Then he went on.

"Pumpkin spice latte, pumpkin donuts, cookies, pie," said Tuitt, his smile able to be seen even underneath his mask. "Everything that has sugar and pumpkin in it right now."

As the questions wrapped up, the group showed their love and appreciation for the players with an enthusiastic, and socially distanced, pink Terrible Towel Twirl, the perfect ending to fun afternoon.

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