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Popping Up

Dinner series showcases school alum and local businesses

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Summer Setting CIA at Copia dinner series is held in the venue's outdoor dining space.
  • Summer Setting CIA at Copia dinner series is held in the venue's outdoor dining space.

Napa's CIA at Copia hosts a series of pop-up dinners highlighting alumni and Napa businesses.

"When a CIA alum approached me about opportunities at Copia, the idea was formed," says Tom Bensel, the culinary center's managing director. "We selected some of our partners who have worked on previous programs with us to give them another venue to showcase their talent."

The series, held at Copia's Grove, stretches across several Mondays, focusing on one chef at a time through November. Monday might not be everyone's idea of a night out, but, the good news is, not much else usually happens. "Mondays are a day when people are open to new ideas," Bensel explains. "It's the start of a new week. There are a lot of people who work in the hospitality industry who have off on Mondays, so we are providing a gathering place for our friends in the valley to enjoy a nice summer night."

The series started this month with CIA grads Itamar Tamar Abramovitch and Nate Smith who now run Blossom Catering Company. The dinner featured Israeli cuisine. Another dinner highlighted Napa's Contimo Provisions which offered an aperitivo dinner of flatbreads, house-cured meats and other snacks, followed by a meaty main course. The final event on July 22 will showcase Spanish tapas and drinks by CIA at Copia Special Events Chef Rodrigo Vazquez.

"(These events) enable us to show the public that we are more than an event space, and there's always a new experience to be had when you visit us," says Bensel. "We want to bring the CIA's thought leadership to the public through all our offerings at Copia. And it doesn't always have to be serious—the pop-ups are meant to be fun." And delicious.

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