Local chefs dish up recipes, tips as part of Happy Valley Culinary Week

The Penn State Downtown Theatre Center looked more like the set of a Food Network show Tuesday as an audience gathered for a live cooking demonstration.

The demonstration by chef Harrison Schailey was part of the inaugural Happy Valley Culinary Week. More than a dozen local restaurants are participating in the event, which is sponsored by the Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Lori Miller, the visitors bureau’s director of visitor and member services, said during the seven-day culinary event, which ends Sunday, participating restaurants will offer multicourse meals to the public at their respective location at a fixed price, in addition to cooking demonstrations. Meals will include an appetizer, entrée and dessert.

On Tuesday, Schailey, of Harrison’s Wine Grill & Catering on East College Avenue, showed more than a dozen people how to make Farmers Market Gazpacho.

“I’m making something that anyone can make,” Schailey said of his gazpacho.

Marilyn Stone said she is attending the demonstrations each day to get cooking ideas.

“I’d like to surprise my family each night this week with a new recipe,” she said. “I’m not very creative in the kitchen, so this lets me think outside the box when it comes to preparing meals.”

Restaurants include Allen Street Grill, Callao Café & Market, Carnegie Inn & Spa, farmers markets from the Central Pennsylvania Farmers Association, the Corner Room, Z-bar Deli and Restaurant, The Dining Room at the Inn, Down Under Steak House, Gamble Mill, Harrison’s Restaurant, Hi-Way Pizza, Mario’s Italian Restaurant, Otto’s Pub and Brewery, P.J. Harrigan’s Bar & Grill, Spats Café and Speakeasy, The Tavern Restaurant, Nittany Lion Inn and Zola New World Bistro.

“It’s all about being local,” Miller said. “We have local restaurants that use local food. We’re encouraging visitors, but we think it’s more important to show our own residents what we have right here in our own backyard.”

In addition, Miller said a chef demonstration will be held at the Penn State Downtown Theatre Centre every day at noon during the week.

“It’s a great opportunity to experience different types of cuisines and see what the area is all about in terms of food and a good time,” Miller said. “Happy Valley Culinary Week is a time to celebrate the art of cooking, local foods and the chefs who prepare them.”

Schailey said it’s all about showing his audience a simple, yet tasty, meal. Along the way, he dishes out cooking and kitchen tips to the audience, such as different ways to use utensils and substituting different ingredients.

“A good tip is that a lot of meals can be tailored to your liking,” Schailey said. “If you don’t like garlic, minimize how much you use.”

On Monday, chef Bob Ricketts, of Fasta & Ravioli Co., was the guest chef. The demonstrations will resume at noon at Penn State Downtown Theatre until Friday.