Weekender

Happy Valley Culinary Week brings attention to ‘great chef talent,’ dining venues in the area

Happy Valley Culinary Week will be held Monday-19, including the South Hills Food Festival from noon-6 p.m. on Thursday.
Happy Valley Culinary Week will be held Monday-19, including the South Hills Food Festival from noon-6 p.m. on Thursday. Photo provided

Are you in a restaurant rut?

You know, going to or ordering takeout from the same place over and over again? Perhaps especially now that many local establishments are not crowded with Penn State students.

If this sounds like you, this week may be your chance to break out of it.

Happy Valley Culinary Week will be held Monday-June 19 and will showcase the area’s restaurants and the chefs behind them.

Organized by the Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau, Happy Valley Culinary Week aims to bring people out during an otherwise sleepy summer week.

“There is a trickle down from those promotions to the restaurants in the form of new customers walking in,” said Andy Rupert, the bureau’s director of marketing. “We want to get the word out that our area has great chef talent and great venues for dining.”

We want to get the word out that our area has great chef talent and great venues for dining.

Andy Rupert, Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau’s director of marketing

Any area restaurant can participate and create a special menu for the week. Recipes from the week are then available on the visitors bureau website. Last year’s offerings included mushroom ravioli with truffle sauce from Home D Pizzeria and Rupert’s favorite jambalaya from Spats Cafe and Speakeasy.

“It takes me back to my time in Mississippi and Louisiana if even only for 10-15 minutes,” Rupert said. “If I can find some cornbread or a glass of sweet tea to go with it, I am in heaven.”

The schedule of events is still being finalized, but one highlight will be the South Hills Food Festival at the South Hills School of Business and Technology. The event will be held Thursday from noon to 6 p.m. and feature demonstrations from chefs and vendors.

Vendors will include Tait Farm Foods and the El Gringo food truck, and cooking demonstrations from Tony Sapia, Elaine Meder-Wilgus and other local restaurateurs.

Jeff Stachowski, community outreach director at South Hills, said more than 1,000 people attended the event last year, and he expects even more this year if the weather cooperates.

Stachowski said the festival combines the school’s educational and outreach goals.

“We are the local career school that trains people for jobs here in central Pa., but we are also part of the community through our music picnics and events like this,” Stachowski said. “We’ve offered culinary classes here so it seemed like a good fit for us to participate in culinary week.”

IF YOU GO

  • What: Happy Valley Culinary Week
  • When: Monday-June 19
  • Where: various locations around State College
  • Info: www.visitpennstate.org/events/happy-valley-culinary-week
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