French Crepes and Soul Food, An Unlikely Pairing Featured in Restaurant Makeover
Tucked away beneath Levels Nightclub is an unusual restaurant where you can fill your plate with candied yams, fried chicken, cornbread and then top it off with a helping of sweet crepes.
It’s a southern-style reinvention of Joie de Crepe, the French creperie that opened last year on East College Avenue.
State College native and soul food chef, Callie Turner, is the new manager and head cook of the restaurant. Turner honed her southern soul food cooking skills while living and working in Philadelphia for the past few years. Now she's a crepe-making expert as well.
“If I can cook soul food from scratch, I can make crepes,” she says.
Turner graduated from State College High School and worked in Philadelphia at Delilah’s Southern Cuisine. Delilah's was named the best place to get macaroni and cheese by Oprah Winfrey in 2003.
Now that Turner is a pro at preparing french and soul food cuisine, she doesn’t mind that the combination might seem poles apart.
“I feel like just as long as everyone that comes in here can say ‘Wow, this is good food!’ that’s all that matters,” she says.
“Whether it’s a crepe or it’s a soul food platter, it’s going to be very good.”
Joie de Crepe closed in April for a makeover. Last month Turner began working with the Joie de Crepe's owner, Hitham Hiyajneh, who also owns Pita Cabana Grill on East College Avenue.
The two partnered to reopen the shop with the new menu in June. They plan to beef up the menu in the weeks ahead, adding savory crepes which are stuffed with meats or vegetables. A southern-style breakfast is also in the works.
Turner says she’s glad to bring something new and authentic to the State College area.
“When I lived in Philly I was able to get all types of food, whether it be soul food, Greek food or African food. It was all just available to me," she says.
"One of the things I wanted to bring here was more variety. Working in State College gives me a sense that I'm adding to the culture.”