This afternoon I stopped by an event announcing plans for an International Culinary Arts School and restaurant on 7th Street in Allentown. This project is an initiative of 7th Street's Main Street program and seeks to adaptively reuse a vacant building on 7th Street to export the Italian culinary arts culture to the Lehigh Valley.
The Baum School of Art (510 W Linden St, Allentown) was the backdrop for the announcement, and representatives from CACLV, the City of Allentown (the mayor himself! although he didn't attempt any Italian), the rest of the project team, and interested "stakeholders," including Tamara from the Parking Authority, the gang from the Baum School, and friends of Pete's (like me) were present to watch Jacii Farris of WFMZ-69 do her thing.
Italian Culinary Arts school representatives Maria Tagliafierro, Dante Tacani and Massimo Napoli of the Nino Bergese Italian Culinary Arts Schools were in town to take a tour and continue the year and a half long discussion between both American and Italian representatives. Plans for the building include redeveloping an Old Allentown mansion into a school, restaurant and housing for exchange students and instructors. LCCC is expected to have a part in the curriculum as well.
The late Nino Bergese was the personal chef for the last King of Italy, and the school he founded in Savona, Italy, remains a benchmark for experts all over the world.
The project will be fantastic - if it can secure the necessary funding to make it happen. I have high hopes for the project, and if anyone can pull it off, it's this team. Best wishes.
PS Speaking of great Italian food, when I was in the lobby of the Holiday Inn in Allentown earlier in the afternoon, I overheard some visitors debating where to get a late lunch in downtown Allentown. Since they said they'd already been to Brew Works, I recommended Kow Thai, maybe a 4-block walk from the hotel. I was informed that "Frank doesn't do Thai," and not knowing who Frank was, thought of Sweet Italian as a backup. Yummy Italian and Mexican food - many dishes with ingredients most Americans recognize. The hotel concierge quickly jumped in and handed them a menu - this woman knows her stuff - and I confirmed with her after the meeting that they did go to Sweet Italian. Hope they liked it!