Food & Drink

Happy Valley Culinary Week aims to give diners beyond-the-menu experiences

Quack, quack! It’s a new doughnut shop

Duck Donuts, at 125 S. Fraser St. in State College, officially opened its doors Friday, offering made to order doughnuts, coffee, espresso and other items. Owner Janette Haas talks about the franchise's origins and what's on the menu.
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Duck Donuts, at 125 S. Fraser St. in State College, officially opened its doors Friday, offering made to order doughnuts, coffee, espresso and other items. Owner Janette Haas talks about the franchise's origins and what's on the menu.

The seventh annual Happy Valley Culinary Week gives local businesses the chance to show off their culinary chops and local diners world-class fare at an appealing cost. Locally-owned restaurants will offer special rates for lunch and dinner prix fixe menus throughout the week. Most of the prix fixe menus include an appetizer, entrée and dessert.

The event, organized by the Central Pennsylvania Convention & Visitors Bureau, returns June 10-16.

In some instances, restaurants and other food-related businesses go above and beyond the prix fixe menu offerings to provide guests with a more immersive dining experience.

“Over the years we’ve had anything from live music to chef demos that make the experience a little extra,” said Andy Rupert, director of marketing at CPCVB.

These experiences can include pairing events, ranging from whiskey to wine, as well as kid-friendly events, like last year’s doughnut-decorating sessions held at Duck Donuts.

While the 2019 restaurant participants and any “extra” experiences are yet to be announced, Rupert said the CPCVB is hoping for a similar number to last year, with perhaps some last-minute additions.

“The more (restaurants) you have participating, the greater the impact of the promotion and reach,” he said.

Last year, 10 restaurants participated in Happy Valley Culinary Week, including local favorites like The Nittany Lion Inn, Harrison’s Wine Grill & Catering and The Field Burger & Tap. Participants are hardly limited to State College and can be found all throughout Centre County, such as last year’s participant Hublersburg Inn.

Culinary Week gives restaurants the opportunity to offer unique menu items they might not normally serve and potentially gain some new regular diners in the process. While the CPCVB does not track the number of consumers that participate in Culinary Week overall, as “certain venues keep more track year-over-year than others,” according to Rupert, he reports that “we’ve been told that the uptick is noticeable during the week of Culinary Week.”

If you’re new to the area, just visiting or simply have never dined at a participating restaurant during Happy Valley Culinary Week before, Rupert says to “expect to experience a special menu for the promotion that help(s) you mix-and-match between some traditional menu favorites and some new special offerings. Each year I have fun figuring out what courses I want to pair together.”

Those with special dietary restrictions can often find a suitable option to fit their needs and possibly even a culinary event dedicated completely to their diet. For example, last year, Webster’s Bookstore Café hosted several vegan cooking demonstrations.

Use #HappyCulinaryWeek throughout the event to join the local conversation and post your foodie photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You might just see your photo pop up on the event website. Make sure to follow the CPCVB on social media as well for a chance to win fun contests and giveaways.

Check the event website, www.happyculinaryweek.com, for participating restaurants and more information.

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