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Mural Arts Program Readying Its 30th Anniversary Dinner Event

By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Think dinner meets public art combined with food activism. That's the idea behind "70x7 the Meal," a Mural Arts project born from a partnership with Paris-based artists Lucy and Jorge Orta.

The Meal is the culmination of Mural Art's "What We Sow" initiative, which began last April and included cooking demonstration, tours, workshops and other events centered around art and heirloom foods. All of the effort will come together on October 5th at 4 p.m., with 900 people sitting at a communal table in Independence National Park between Chestnut and Arch Streets and 5th and 6th.

"We are breaking ground when it comes to muralism," says Jane Golden, director of Philadelphia's Mural Arts program. "This project will bring people together in conversation about food issues, but it's very tangible."

Mural Arts promises art and beauty will be a major focus of the event, which will include a limited edition plate with enameled motifs manufactured by Royal Limoges in France and a specially-printed table runner depicting visuals the Ortas have researched throughout their residency in Philadelphia. In addition, the program is hoping to include people from every neighborhood in Philadelphia, since one quarter of the tickets will go to the general public.

"The people will come from all walks of life, it'll be very diverse," says Golden, who noted that individuals who attended "What We Sow" events this past summer were able to enter into a lottery for tickets. "This project is really about providing people with moment of connection and a moment to talk about important issues."

Renowned chef Marc Vetri created the menu for the meal, which will be catered by Cescaphe Event Group. Simple, locally-grown, heirloom foods will be included in the meal, which will consist of fennel and parmesan gratin; squash caponata with raisins and pine nuts; traditional bagna cauda with potatoes, purple carrots, fennel, and chicory; and haricots vert with purple potatoes. In addition, free food kits will be distributed to 400 people through the SHARE Food Program so that they can enjoy the meal at home.

Area restaurants will also include special heirloom vegetables on their menus on October 5th, including Aksum, Circles Thai, Heirloom, La Calaca Feliz, Liberté, Marathon Grill (16th & Sansom) and Standard Tap.

"The point of this all is to show everyone should have access to good, healthy foods, as well as art," says Golden.

Mural Arts will give away 100 pairs of tickets to the general public through a lottery. The final event at which people can register is on Saturday, September 7 at the Heirloom Tasting with Fair Food at Reading Terminal Market. For more info, visit:

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