Students Learn Italian Wine, Cooking and Culture through Annual Travel Scholarship

8/11/2011

Contact: Megan Meyer (312) 715-6741

CHICAGO, IL -French classical cooking continues to serve as the primary foundation for most culinary school instruction today. But what about Italian cuisine? In an effort to broaden this educational platform, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) has collaborated with Gruppo Ristoratori Italiani (GRI) to send seven outstanding college students on an all-expense paid trip to Italy where they explored the cooking, culture and wine of Italy's second largest region - Piedmont.

From tours of vineyards and a local culinary school to a handful of dinners and chef demos, the 10th annual GRI/Giacomo Bologna Scholarship trip, which took place May 24-31, provided culinary and foodservice management students with valuable, hands-on techniques and lessons they could incorporate into their studies back home.

"We are thrilled to work with Gruppo Ristoratori Italiani each year on this once-in-a-lifetime educational opportunity," said Lynette McKee, executive director of the NRAEF. "The talented students awarded the scholarship travelled to the epicenter of their culinary passion and experienced first-hand Italian cooking and winemaking."

As the only non-profit restaurant association in the U.S. specifically for Italian restaurants, GRI focuses on developing partnerships and initiatives, such as the NRAEF scholarship, to educate and promote authentic, region-specific Italian food and wine.

"Education has always been at the core of GRI's mission for the last 30 years," said Tony May, Chairman, Gruppo Ristoratori Italiani. "The incredible comments from the students reinforce why we remain committed to continue our partnership with the NRAEF to further expand the knowledge of Italian cuisine and the products to the next generation of the industry."

The students who earned the GRI/Giacomo Bologna Scholarship were:

  • Marissa Bertram, Madison Area Technical College
  • Melvin Jared Cristobal, University of Alaska-Anchorage
  • Courtney Everett, Southern New Hampshire University
  • Joel Kielion, The Culinary Institute of America
  • Meredith O'Malley, Cornell University School of Hotel Administration
  • Brooke Maynard, The Culinary Institute of America
  • Mark Delos Reyes, South Seattle Community College

The student recipients took advantage of a full educational program, including chef demos and dinners at local Michelin-starred restaurants; samplings of regional foods such as white asparagus, black truffles, fois gras and cheeses; a lesson in winemaking and tasting at the Beni Di Batasiolo winery, workshops at the Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners and tours of the historic cities of Alba and Turin. Each year, the program highlights a different region in Italy - this year's trip focused on Piedmont's Langhe territory, nestled in the undulating hills of the Barolo and Nebbiolo wine region.

"I'm from Seattle and we really don't have a lot of Italian food out here, so I was really excited to visit Italy and learn more about the cuisine and culture there," said Maynard, a soon-to-be third-year student at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. "My perception of Italian food was a big bowl of pasta and with a ton of red sauce, but now it's completely different. To me, Italian cuisine is all about the dining experience - people there love to eat and the people making the food know that, which makes the food taste better."

O'Malley, approaching her third year in the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University said it's all about the ingredients and simplicity of the dishes. "Going to Italy makes you appreciate the simplicity of a meal - taking the freshest, most basic ingredients and really savoring them. Italian cooking is also about using seasonal ingredients. Asparagus was in season when we were there so it seemed like every dish had some in it, from asparagus risotto, to pan-fried asparagus to asparagus with squid ink. It's cool how Italians can take one ingredient and make it in so many different ways."

To apply for the GRI/Giacomo Bologna Scholarship, students must have at least two years of culinary experience and/or viticulture training, working directly with a chef in the preparation of food or with a sommelier. Applicants must also be full-time students in an accredited college or culinary institute. Only seven students are selected to attend this incredible workshop.

The NRAEF Scholarship Program awards more than $1 million annually - $14 million total since 1997 - to students and educators committed to furthering their education or professional development in restaurant and foodservice management. At nine percent of the U.S. workforce, the restaurant and foodservice industry is one of the largest employers in the U.S. with 12.8 million employees, and an additional 1.3 million positions will be added over the next decade. The NRAEF's programs are instrumental in recruiting and training the workforce needed to meet the industry's growth. For more information, visit the NRAEF Scholarship Program.

As the only non-profit restaurant association in the U.S. specifically for Italian restaurants, GRI focuses on developing partnerships and initiatives, such as the NRAEF scholarship, to educate and promote authentic, region-specific Italian food and wine.

"Education has always been at the core of GRI's mission for the last 30 years," said Tony May, Chairman, Gruppo Ristoratori Italiani. "The incredible comments from the students reinforce why we remain committed to continue our partnership with the NRAEF to further expand the knowledge of Italian cuisine and the products to the next generation of the industry."

The students who earned the GRI/Giacomo Bologna Scholarship were:

  • Marissa Bertram, Madison Area Technical College
  • Melvin Jared Cristobal, University of Alaska-Anchorage
  • Courtney Everett, Southern New Hampshire University
  • Joel Kielion, The Culinary Institute of America
  • Meredith O'Malley, Cornell University School of Hotel Administration
  • Brooke Maynard, The Culinary Institute of America
  • Mark Delos Reyes, South Seattle Community College

The student recipients took advantage of a full educational program, including chef demos and dinners at local Michelin-starred restaurants; samplings of regional foods such as white asparagus, black truffles, fois gras and cheeses; a lesson in winemaking and tasting at the Beni Di Batasiolo winery, workshops at the Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners and tours of the historic cities of Alba and Turin. Each year, the program highlights a different region in Italy - this year's trip focused on Piedmont's Langhe territory, nestled in the undulating hills of the Barolo and Nebbiolo wine region.

"I'm from Seattle and we really don't have a lot of Italian food out here, so I was really excited to visit Italy and learn more about the cuisine and culture there," said Maynard, a soon-to-be third-year student at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. "My perception of Italian food was a big bowl of pasta and with a ton of red sauce, but now it's completely different. To me, Italian cuisine is all about the dining experience - people there love to eat and the people making the food know that, which makes the food taste better."

O'Malley, approaching her third year in the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University said it's all about the ingredients and simplicity of the dishes. "Going to Italy makes you appreciate the simplicity of a meal - taking the freshest, most basic ingredients and really savoring them. Italian cooking is also about using seasonal ingredients. Asparagus was in season when we were there so it seemed like every dish had some in it, from asparagus risotto, to pan-fried asparagus to asparagus with squid ink. It's cool how Italians can take one ingredient and make it in so many different ways."

To apply for the GRI/Giacomo Bologna Scholarship, students must have at least two years of culinary experience and/or viticulture training, working directly with a chef in the preparation of food or with a sommelier. Applicants must also be full-time students in an accredited college or culinary institute. Only seven students are selected to attend this incredible workshop.

The NRAEF Scholarship Program awards more than $1 million annually - $14 million total since 1997 - to students and educators committed to furthering their education or professional development in restaurant and foodservice management. At nine percent of the U.S. workforce, the restaurant and foodservice industry is one of the largest employers in the U.S. with 12.8 million employees, and an additional 1.3 million positions will be added over the next decade. The NRAEF's programs are instrumental in recruiting and training the workforce needed to meet the industry's growth. For more information, visit the NRAEF Scholarship Program.

About the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation
As the philanthropic foundation of the National Restaurant Association, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) enhances the restaurant industry's service to the public through education, community engagement, and promotion of career opportunities. The restaurant and foodservice industry is comprised of 945,000 restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of 13 million employees, making it one of the nation's largest employers. The NRAEF is focused on working with the Association to lead America's restaurant industry into a new era of prosperity, prominence and participation by providing the valuable tools and resources needed to educate our current and incoming employees. For more information on the NRAEF, visit www.nraef.org.

About Gruppo Ristoratori Italiani
Gruppo Ristoratori Italiani (GRI) is the only non-profit restaurant association specifically for Italian restaurants founded in 1979. Today GRI is comprised of some of the top Italian restaurants from across the country and boasts a membership of over 700 combined restaurant and corporate members. GRI's Mission is to enhance the image of authentic Italian cuisine through education. GRI provides a constant flow of information about Italian cuisine to member restaurants, US press, culinary schools, importers, distributors and general consumers with the intent to achieve a better understanding of Italian food and wine in North America. For more information on GRI, visit www.gruppo.com.

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