Freelance features

Explore State College and the rest of Centre County with me through my assignments in Town&Gown:

Kokoro Offers Japanese-Style Food with a Focus on Fresh

When diners visit Kokoro, they will more than likely see Shariful Mintu both helping in the kitchen and talking with everyone in the dining room.

“I always liked feeding people,” says Mintu, the restaurant’s leader. “I like to see people happy.”

Kokoro, a BYOB Japanese-style restaurant offering a variety of dishes, is tucked along Calder Way in downtown State College. It opened in late 2022 and has since grown into a popular spot for locals and college students alike.

Taste of the Month: Worth the weekly wait at Crumbl

The holiday season is a time of joy, celebration, gift giving and, of course, cookies. Everyone can find unique versions of their favorite cookies at State College’s sweetest new addition, Crumbl Cookies.

Crumbl offers a rotating variety of gourmet cookies and ice cream at its storefront on Colonnade Way in State College, one of the newest outlets of the popular national chain. The cookie confectionary opened in late September, drawing a strong following, according to co-owner Adam Coughran.

'The Perfect Level of Sweetness' at Chew Chew Bun

Skye Chang noticed something was missing from the food offerings in downtown State College. He saw an opportunity for sharing the sweet and savory baked goods he enjoyed at bakeries in Taiwan and from his mother’s kitchen.

He’s now filling that gap—one bun at a time—with Chew Chew Bun, an Asian bakery that offers Taiwanese-inspired baked goods.

“This is how we grew up in Taiwan,” Chang explains. “If you walk down the street, almost every couple of blocks, there’s an Asian bakery.”

Crafted from History: Steve Strouse’s artwork begins with wood salvaged from memorable trees

Steve Strouse crafts Shaker boxes, kitchen utensils, keepsakes, and other items from wood taken from memorable Centre County trees. (Photo by Chuck Fong)

Where a homeowner may see a mess to clean up, Steve Strouse sees an opportunity to create meaningful art. He finds his canvases in what many consider to be disposable fallen trees, transforming them into boxes, kitchen tools, clocks, and more.

Carter’s Table: a delicious twist on the simple taco

Shawn Carter started at the Downtown State College Farmers Market and now has customers flocking to his new restaurant. (Photo by Hannah Pollock)

Shawn Carter had built a successful catering business serving a worldwide variety of foods and flavors when he decided to try out the Downtown State College Farmers Market in April 2022.

Carter, a Penn State alumnus, remembered walking through the market on his way to campus and thought his cooking could add something new to the offerings.

Best Bites for Li'l Appetites: Tasty local kids' meals

Picking a restaurant where every member of the family will be satisfied can be tricky. Luckily, Happy Valley is home to a wide variety of eateries where kids can enjoy a tasty meal, whether they’re adventurous eaters or refuse anything but chicken fingers. Some pint-sized diners may have a more refined palate but don’t necessarily need the whole adult portion, so kids’ meals fit the bill. And Mom and Dad don’t have to pay the adult portion price!