By Ken Bourgoin, Professor of Culinary Management, Culinary Arts, West Campus
For the better part of 2013, Pierre Pilloud, professor of culinary management, culinary arts, West Campus, worked diligently to build a study abroad program to Florence, Italy. As I partnered with him in this endeavor, we discovered that I would need to gain critical international experience in order to eventually attend the trip as a program leader. The Hunton, Brady, Pryor, and Maso Endowed Chair provided me the resources to gain valuable international knowledge and experience to prepare me to lead a future study abroad trip.
The student abroad experience was an intensive visit during spring break 2014 to the Apicus International School of Hospitality, housed within the University of Florence in Italy. We attended classes for eight consecutive days in the mornings and evenings. A few of the classes were held offsite in specialty locations that permitted us to see the areas of the country where ingredients that we used in class were actually grown or raised. These educational excursions were all centered on the processing of significant Italian foods like Parmesan cheese, Chianti wine, balsamic vinegar and prosciutto.
The University of Florence was well organized, and the students, along with Pierre and I, really engaged in the classes. From the bread class to the gelato, pasta, wine, food history and nutrition classes, we learned interesting cooking tidbits from an Italian perspective.
In one word, the experience was extraordinary! The critical thinking involved with determining the quality of specific food products and the main reason for educating the palate was exceptional. That is not to say that everything there was high end, but Italy takes its certificates of origin seriously. Most food harvesting and preparation processes are handed down through generations. Those who follow the protocols do reap the benefits when they are applied correctly.
Thank you Valencia, Pierre and SAGE for making this possible.