A Day in the Summer School of ALMA, La Scuola Internazionale di Cucina Italiana

With my chef's uniform, toque and apron, I weaved my way at almost midnight through the hotel lobby and into my room, tired but dazed from the day's activities. My day had been so surreal that, if not for the things I just pulled out from my bag, I wouldn't even believe that I really spent a day with 40 of Italy's best neo-graduates from different hotelier institutes in the country. At such a young age, they are very passionate and dedicated to what they are doing and just incredibly talented!

On the 6th of August, I was at the majestic Ducal Palace of Colorno, where ALMA Culinary School is located along with other members of the media to witness a day with the 40 students taking the intense week-long ALMA Summer School. We ourselves experienced life in the classrooms as we sat through lessons of sala & bar conducted by teacher Sommelier and Maitre de Salle Roberto Gardini and stay in the kitchens while the students were preparing for the dinner buffet for that night.

I observed and listened in silent contemplation about how different life is in a culinary school. ALMA goes for perfection for the training of their students (for that they have such a 90% rate for employment within 6 months of graduating), where the professors are masters of their own fields of teaching. Sitting through a class of Professor Roberto Gardini, I watched in amazement how many things a person serving in the sala & bar should know. Peeling different kinds of fruits is one in the proper way of not touching the fruits at all (including peeling and taking away the seeds of every single grape), preparing crepes suzette the proper way or flambeing in precision.

The newly-opened Superior Course of Sala & Bar gives an in-depth training to the future Restaurant & Bar Managers. The importance of dining in any given restaurant doesn't solely depend on the dishes prepared by the chef in the kitchen but also the way it is served in the dining area. A perfect dining experience is shared by both the experts in the dining area and the kitchen. ALMA Culinary School believes in this and for that the start of the Superior Course of Sala & Bar is playing an important role now in the school. 


From the 3rd to the 7th of August, with 5 full days, the students had to fully immerse themselves in  the culinary world of ALMA. The training involved 360 degrees of demonstrative lessons, educational culinary trips and learning the deeper insights in the world of cooking, pastry-making, sommelier and sala & bar. 


ALMA Summer School is sustained by the main sponsors Metro Italia Cash & Carry, Birrificio Angelo Poretti which held lessons in the beer sector and Toscobosco which held a competition among 6 culinary students in presenting their best dishes with the theme of "Radici" (Roots).

In the competition, each of the 6 selected students prepared a dish using a vegetable root of their choice. Under the tutelage of Chef Fabio Giacopelli each student prepared in their own space in the vast kitchen the dishes they were presenting. There was nervousness and utmost concentration going on in the vast kitchen they were sharing. I understand how nerve-wracking it can be.

Three were chosen winners by the technical jury comprising of the partners of Toscobosco and ALMA and us, the media. It had been an experience so worthy of remembering as part of my ALMA experience. Scroll down for the winners of the contest.

To end the night, a Gala Buffet was prepared by the graduating students. All 40 of them, dressed in their respective uniforms stood behind the long buffet tables, proud of their accomplishments. I, myself was proud of seeing them. Such dedicated young people with their chosen professions gave me a quiet assurance that we are in good hands with our future chefs and restaurant & bar managers. With professional and intense training from ALMA, restaurants will witness an augmentation of excellence in quality of a dining experience.

Food and wine were overflowing, as well as the spirit of excitement and happiness. A week of hard work and studying was concluding that night as they receive their diplomas of completion. Our day of experiencing their life inside was also coming to a conclusion. Indeed, ALMA makes wonders in the culinary education of our future young people.

The closing of the night was the awarding of the 3 best dishes of the Radici (Roots) competition conducted by Toscobosco. Each of the 3 winning students won portions of scholarships for their succeeding courses in ALMA.

Third place went to Agnese Mainardi's Ravioli alle 3 Radici. It's a ravioli dish that she filled up with three kinds of root vegetables, namely carrots, ginger and turmeric with such delicateness of flavors.

Second place went to Kevin Grassenis' Costoletto di Agnello al Moscato di Scanzo e Zenzero con Polenta di Mais Spinato di Gandino e Crema di Cavolfiore. This was also the plate that we, the media group chose as the winner. The lamb was cooked to perfection and it placed on top of the polenta cooked with turmeric. The ginger and Moscato di Scanzo wine were cooked together to make an incredibly tasting sauce poured on top of the lamb. The cream of cauliflower was served on the side.

And the first place went to Vittorio Giorgi's Risotto Profumato alle Radici. Cooked with coconut milk and cow's milk mixed together with liquorice roots, ginger, grapefruit peel & fresh mint, and the addition of caramelized mango on top, the risotto was an incredible explosion of flavors in the mouth. Vittorio was able to orchestrate well the use of the roots in his risotto. A real masterpiece.

ALMA Summer School is conducted every year in ALMA Scuola Internazionale di Cucina Italiana. The school chooses the best 40 graduates of different Hotelier Institutes in Italy and gives them a possibility to live in ALMA with a full immersion in the culinary world through demonstrative classes, educational trips in the Food Valley, sommelier and sala & bar. 

Aside from the Summer School, ALMA offers different kinds of programs throughout the year. Please refer to their site to find out more. 

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