In a highly anticipated return, students from the Culinary Skills, Culinary Management, and Baking and Pastry Arts Management programs participated in an unforgettable study abroad trip to Italy and France.
Under the guidance of professors Chef Simon Stenekes and Chef Daniel Gonzalez, the students set off on a sixteen-day journey through the heart of the culinary, pastry, and wine world, commencing on May 4th. This immersive experience included hands-on workshops, walking expeditions, seminars, and tours of wineries, farms, and food production facilities, offering a wealth of knowledge and cultural enrichment.
The journey in Rome, where the students indulged in a student-planned walking tour of the city, immersing themselves in its rich historical heritage. They savoured a delectable dinner featuring traditional Roman delicacies, including the quintessential Roman street food Suppli, Pizza alla Romana, Tonnarelli Carbonara, Cacio e Pepe, Veal Saltimbocca, and the iconic Roman classic, Tiramisu.
Continuing their gastronomic journey, the group ventured north to Grosseto, where they explored a buffalo milk cheese producer. They had the opportunity to tour the buffalo farm, gaining insights into the farm's sustainable practices. Witnessing the production of mozzarella di bufala and sampling six varieties of buffalo milk cheeses, the students then took part in a hands-on cheesemaking workshop, creating their own Stracchino di Buffala.
Next, the group made their way to Florence, with a stop at Banfi Winery in Montalcino. They embarked on a captivating tour of Europe's largest contiguous vineyard, explored Banfi's wine ageing cave, and concluded with a private wine tasting in a 13th-century castle. They also visited an olive oil producer, indulging in a tasting of three distinct olive oils. In Florence, the students had the privilege of spending a day with master gelatiere Vetulio Bondi, where they gained insights into the production of Italy's most beloved treat through a hands-on workshop, crafting six different gelato flavours. They further honed their culinary skills during a practical lab class, preparing a typical Tuscan three-course menu at Florence University of the Arts (FUA) – Apicius, Humber College's partner school.
The journey then took the students to the serene city of Parma, where they embarked on various day trips. They visited a risotto rice farm and a water-powered rice mill dating back to 1650, which still operates today. Here, they enjoyed a tasting of Risotto all'isolana, a renowned regional dish. Delving deeper into their culinary education, the students learned about the production processes and precise D.O.P standards for Prosciutto di Parma, Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena, and Parmigiano Reggiano, while savouring various product tastings. A highlight of their visit was the awe-inspiring Parmigiano Reggiano cheese cave experience.
Continuing their gastronomic expedition, the group travelled to Lyon, known as the gastronomic capital of France. Here, they delved into the origins of iconic French and Lyonnaise delicacies such as Saucisson Brioche, Macaron Chocolat, Tarte aux Praline, and Quenelle de Brochet. The students had the privilege of embarking on a taste tour of Les Halles de Lyon - Paul Bocuse, a renowned covered market where over fifty-five of the finest food producers in France sell their products to chefs and the public alike. Considered a "Mecca for the taste buds," Les Halles de Lyon offered an immersive gastronomic experience, allowing the students to truly savour the essence of Lyon.
The final leg of the journey took the students to the captivating southern coast of France, where they explored Marseille and Cassis. They visited a small boutique winery, indulged in a scenic boat cruise along the majestic shoreline, and culminated their adventure with a gourmet four-course French Provençale dinner at a Michelin guide restaurant.
This action-packed sixteen-day expedition provided an exceptional culinary experience, cultural diversity, and invaluable learning opportunities. The students returned to Canada equipped with practical skills, international exposure, and lifelong friendships, poised to become outstanding global citizens in the culinary world.