Samantha Swidowski and Madison Macchia

From left, Samantha Swidowski and Madison Macchia, 2003 recipients of the Tony and Emma Ricupero-Rustic Lodge Scholarship

Two students at Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Academy of Culinary Arts have been selected as the 2023 recipients of the Tony and Emma Ricupero-Rustic Lodge Scholarship.

The 2023 scholarship recipients are Madison Macchia from Cresson and Samantha Swidowski from Chester, WV.

The scholarship was established in 2001 by members of the Ricupero and Lubold families to honor Tony and Emma Ricupero’s reputation in the food service industry for hard work, quality service, customer satisfaction, and service to the community. 

Originating as a “pop stop” in 1945 owned by Tony and Emma Ricupero, the Rustic Lodge has flourished into Indiana's finest full-service banquet facility, spanning 50 years and three generations. Tony and Emma Ricupero dedicated their lives to their family and their business and created the memorial-Rustic Lodge Scholarship that is given to an IUP culinary student every year.

Third-generation owner Joe Lubold has continued the scholarship and this tradition of excellence, ensuring that the Rustic Lodge continues to be Indiana's premier banquet facility by valuing his family's heritage and the hard work that has been put into it.

“The Ricupero-Lubold families are proud to continue the scholarship to support talented culinary arts graduates,” he said.

Macchia, daughter of Nicolos and Katrina Macchia, is a 2021 graduate of Penn Cambria High School. While at the Academy, she was a member of the American Culinary Federation and received a silver medal during the ACF savory cooking competition. She is currently completing her externship at the Duquesne Club in Pittsburgh.

Swidowski, daughter of Vanessa Swidowski, is a 2002 graduate of Weir High School. While at the Academy, she received awards for highest honors and perfect attendance and earned Culinary Dean’s Honor status. She served on the IUP Activity Board and was a student ambassador. She is completing her externship at Nemacolin in Farmington.

Since its founding in 1989, more than 4,200 students have studied in Punxsutawney at the Academy of Culinary Arts, which has continued to meet and exceed its enrollment goals.

The Academy’s 16-month program is nationally recognized and accredited by the American Culinary Federation. After completing a final semester at a paid externship, graduates earn a certificate in culinary arts and can also complete a separate baking and pastry program through the Academy.

The Baking and Pastry Arts program became a stand-alone program in 2019 to allow for additional growth in this program.

The long-range Academy of Culinary Arts master plan, updated in 2022, calls for locating all of the educational facilities for the Academy in new or renovated buildings in downtown Punxsutawney, adjacent to the academy’s Fairman Centre along West Mahoning Street.