For the culinary professional, few experiences are more inspiring than enjoying all that a cuisine has to offer in its native setting. For a lucky group of chefs, this was Italy. In May, winners of Barilla’s culinary tour sweepstakes enjoyed the food culture of Bologna, Modena, Parma and the scenic coastal villages of the Cinque Terre.
Each region offered memorable experiences, from FICO, Italy’s “culinary theme park” near Bologna, with its astounding array of Italian specialties, to a wine tasting on a terrace in Vernazza overlooking the Ligurian Sea, and many food and drink tours, tastings, and chef demonstrations in between. A day spent in the kitchen with chef Tommaso Moroni at Academia Barilla in Parma showed chefs a renewed focus on quality products and execution in perfect simplicity. Here’s how a few of the chefs summed up their experiences:
The journey is one I’ll never forget. From the chefs’ playground of FICO and the manufacturing tours of Parmigiano-Reggiano, Prosciutto di Parma and balsamic vinegar to the many dining experiences, the introduction to Italy’s local products, cuisine, history and chefs was more than I could have imagined. Chef Tommaso’s knowledge of Italian cuisine was inspiring. We took away an understanding of the importance of matching regional flavors with the proper ingredients, and using the best products and techniques to give your customer an amazing experience.
—Craig Cook, Exec. Chef, Campus Dining Services, University of Colorado Boulder
The Italian culture is very harmonious and simple, with a great respect for keeping tradition. And the act of hospitality seems second nature. All of this was inspiring, and these qualities came through in interactions, and, ultimately, were a primary element in their cooking. And chef Tommaso’s approach to pasta highlighted its simplicity, showing us that cooking pasta correctly can make it the star of the show. I’ll definitely be looking at an overall simpler approach to food using good quality ingredients.
—Christian Hallowell, General Manager-IFS Onboard Service Global Food/ Beverage Design Chef, Delta Air Lines
The food experience of this tour reinforced the importance of technique and craft. During an intensive immersion into the culinary culture of the Italian regions, the importance of craft, tradition and an uncompromising focus on doing things the “right way” were always foundational to excellent culinary experiences. There’s a belief that craft can be perfected and that excellence in execution is more important than any consideration of “new.” Tradition, execution and a deep respect and reverence for product and process were top of mind here.
—Darryl Mickler, Corp. Exec. Chef, ECI Management Group
Don’t miss your chance to be immersed into the food culture of Italy! Win a trip to Italy by entering today at barillafs.com/ftmsweeps.
Each issue we’ll choose another winner who’s going to Italy. Will you be next?