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Conquer culinary cold feet at 29 Cooks

Dining and DrinkingCookingRestaurantsRestaurant and Catering IndustryPropertyMother's Day

Whether you're a seasoned chef serving gourmet meals or a struggling chef throwing away burnt eggs and toast, 29 Cooks in Upper Milford Township is here to help.

The catering and culinary center, which opened April 22, is for all skill levels — from modern-day Julia Childs and aspiring Emeril Lagasses to titans of takeout and masters of the microwave.

"Everyone has something to learn here," said Cindie Feldman, who co-owns 29 Cooks with her husband, Kevin. "And for the people who say, 'I can't learn or I can't cook,' I say to them, 'Of course you can! You just lost your confidence — or you hate to do dishes.'"

The 4030 Chestnut St. business, in the Chestnut Court strip mall between Hess and Yocco's, offers both public and private experience-based cooking classes.

Boasting a convection oven, movable range, 10-foot butcher block and a host of other culinary equipment, the 2,100-square-foot facility is an ideal setting for chefs and chefs in training.

Participants watch demonstrations, receive one-on-one instruction and apply their newly learned skills to collaborative dishes.

The classes, which accommodate up to 20 participants, are perfect for bridal parties, book clubs and "any group looking to have fun," said Feldman, who says "making people happy with food" is one of her biggest passions.

Upcoming public classes include "Girls, Girls, Girls," where ladies learn how to make foods such as honey crunch chicken breast with warm caramelized bacon kale; "Date Night," where couples work together to create dishes such as jerk shrimp pasta alfredo and chocolate ganache fondue; and "A Man with No Plan," where men learn how to take their "grill skills into this century."

Classes, $50 to $75, are BYOB and mocktails and mixers are provided.

The Feldmans are especially excited to offer a junior culinary camp for children, ages 7-11, this summer.

The program will feature six weeklong sessions, including "Ocean Waves," where students learn how to make foods from Jamaica, Puerto Rico and other beach havens; and "Made in the USA," where students explore culinary traditions from different parts of the country.

Each session is $325, except for a session devoted to students with gluten or nut allergies ($375).

From 2006 to 2008, the Feldmans operated Emmaus' Café 29, which they closed to devote more time to their sons — Marc, 19, and Nick, 21. Both will help out at the center when they return from college in a couple of weeks.

The couple's new venture also includes full-service catering where a customizable menu of freshly prepared foods can be brought to your home or any off-site location.

Customers can choose from a wide selection of specialty hors d'oeuvres, soups, salads, sides, wraps, sandwiches, pastas, entrees, desserts, drinks and breakfast selections.

The center, which will hold a grand opening 7-9 p.m. Saturday, accepts reservations seven days a week. Info: 484-951-0442 or 29cooks.com.

For Retail Watchers looking to upgrade their usual gift of flowers this Mother's Day, consider stopping by Klassic Gold in Hellertown for a sparkly ring, bracelet, necklace or set of earrings at a price that won't bankrupt you.

The full-service jewelry store at 650 Main St., next to Yeager's Pharmacy, is holding a retirement sale with all inventory 25 to 70 percent off.

Co-owner Denise Knauss is retiring, and the store, which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, will be closing within the next few months. Info: 610-838-6657 or klassicgold.net.

Another seller of jewelry, C. Leslie Smith, moved from its location of more than 30 years in the Village West shopping center on Tilghman Street in South Whitehall Township to a larger space in the Shops at Cedar Point on Cedar Crest Boulevard, next to Pistachio Bar & Grille, in South Whitehall Township.

The silversmith shop, established in 1955 in Allentown by Charles Leslie Smith Jr., specializes in hand-wrought silver and gold jewelry from its on-site workshop and from artisans around the country.

It also sells blown glass, handcrafted porcelain dishes and other unique gifts. Info: 610-439-8833 or clesliesmith.com.

Many Retail Watchers, including Jason Trexler of Breinigsville and Nanette Wallis of Bethlehem Township, have inquired about the status of Gregory's Steakhouse at 2201 Schoenersville Road in Hanover Township, Northampton County.

The restaurant, closed since January 2013 due to damage from a fire, has been undergoing extensive renovations the past few months in preparation for an opening later this year.

On a recent trip to the eatery, owner Theodore Bozakis couldn't provide a reopening date, but said the "completely new restaurant" should be serving guests sometime this summer.

Construction workers were buzzing around during my visit and Bozakis noted that due to the destructive blaze, they have to "replace everything" — from plumbing, duct work and electrical wiring, to flooring, appliances and furniture.

"We're starting from scratch," noted Bozakis, who recently replaced the roof.

Additional changes will include new management, a mix of old and new menu items (it will still be "home of the 120-ounce steak") and a different layout, including a larger, repositioned 30-seat square bar. Stay updated at gregoryssteakhouse.com.

Other Schoenersville Road construction garnering curiosity is at the former Triangle Building Center, north of Burger King, in Bethlehem. Several readers, including Alan Allegra of Hanover Township, Northampton County, emailed me with delicious wishes.

"My wife and I have been hoping for a Pizza Hut," Allegra wrote.

Well, sorry to disappoint, everyone. It won't be a Pizza Hut, Cheesecake Factory or any other restaurant, for that matter. The 3155 Schoenersville Road property will, however, be a restaurant supply store.

Frank Smith of NAI Summit recently represented the owner, Republic-Bethlehem LP, in the sale of the 4.2-acre property for $1.6 million. The buyer, Calumet Enterprises LLC, plans to renovate the 42,000-square-foot industrial building on-site and use it for a new Restaurant Store.

The Lancaster-based company, which previously operated a store at this location in the 1990s, would not comment on whether its store on Airport Road in Allentown would remain open or if it would be moving to the Bethlehem location.

Other Restaurant Stores are in Delaware, Maryland and other parts of Pennsylvania.

Thanks to Retail Watcher John Thomas of Bath, I learned that Emily's Ice Cream moved about a month ago from 848 Nazareth Pike in Lower Nazareth Township to a larger space at 100 S. Main St. in Nazareth.

The business, established in 1988, specializes in making premium ice cream and ice cream cakes. Unique flavors such as salted caramel change daily. Info: 610-759-4682 or emilysicecream.com.

Two developments in Whitehall Township include the recent opening of Bargain Book Warehouse, a book discount chain offering all genres at up to 90 percent off retail, at 2631 MacArthur Road (near Walmart); and a going-out-of-business sale (at least 50 percent off everything) through the end of the month at Dots, a women's clothing and accessories store at 2180 MacArthur Road (in Whitehall Square).

I'll finish with a few restaurant happenings in Allentown.

First, Gyros Queen at 1601 Liberty St. (near Mary Ann Donut Kitchen) closed April 12. The restaurant served American, Greek and Middle Eastern cuisine.

Second, fans of the chalupa and gordita can "live mas" in East Allentown thanks to Saturday's grand opening of Taco Bell at 1122 Airport Road, formerly the site of Jimmy's Place. Other nearby franchises are in Bethlehem Township, Whitehall Township, Wilson and Phillipsburg.

Finally, a sign outside the closed George's Galaxy Diner at 1022 Union Blvd. indicates Ray's Pizza is coming soon.

Retail Watch keeps track of new store, restaurant and bank development in the Lehigh Valley. Have a question about a retail construction project, store opening or chain you'd like to see come to the area? Contact reporter Ryan Kneller at 610-820-6597 or retailwatch@mcall.com. Retail Watch appears every Sunday.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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