Partners in Friendship will put a new spin on its popular annual dinner this year by bringing in a chef from Orvieto, Italy, one of Aikenís two international partner cities.


The dinner, to be held on Feb. 9 at Newberry Hall, has traditionally featured the wines and cuisine of Italy. In years past, it has been planned and executed by Jeff Viviano, a well-known executive chef in Massachusetts, who is also the son of PIF culinary chair Rich Viviano. When the PIF Board learned that Jeff would be unavailable this year, it decided to look further afield. That decision led the board all the way to Italy and a 28-year-old chef in Perugia named Riccardo Manieri.


ďRiccardo visited Aiken a couple of years ago when he was just starting to cook, and he stayed with several of our board members then,Ē Viviano said. ďWhen we approached him about doing the annual dinner for us this year, he jumped at the chance. Heís a very talented chef, and heís from Orvieto, so weíre really excited about having him back here.Ē


The menu, which Manieri created especially for the dinner, will consist of six courses, each paired with a fine Italian wine. Students from the culinary arts class at Aiken High School will be assisting with the meal. Vegetarian meals will be available, and special dietary needs can be accommodated.


Ten dollars of the $60 per-person cost (which includes wine before the dinner) is tax-deductible. It will go to PIFís scholarship fund, which helps high school students with financial needs participate in the organizationís annual student exchange program with Orvieto.


The evening will begin with a social hour at 6:30 p.m., followed by dinner and the annual meeting of the PIF membership. It will also include a silent auction featuring two prints by the late Livio Valentini, one of Italyís most renowned artists and a PIF co-founder.


Reservations for the dinner can be made by sending a check to PIF at P.O. Box 4702, Aiken, SC 29804. PIF members and their guests receive priority reservations until Monday. PIF memberships ($25 per family or $15 per individual) are tax-deductible and can also be purchased by sending a check to that address. For more information, call Rich Viviano at 641-1873.