The Embassy of Italy in the P.R.C., ITA – Italian Trade Agency and ALMA launch the “Italian Culinary Program”

Shanghai, China, May 06, 2021The promotion of Italian gastronomic culture in China has long been a core mission of the ITA – Italian Trade Agency. As China and Italy mark the 51st anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, the Embassy of Italy in the P.R.C. and ITA will launch the “Italian Culinary Program”, an initiative that aims to further promote Italian gastronomic culture and facilitate deeper culinary exchanges between China and Italy. This program consists of three components: Italian culinary arts video lessons (“Masterclass”), Italian culinary workshops, and a summer teachers’ training project on Italian culinary education, Train the Trainer.

The first component of the Italian Culinary Program is a series of Italian culinary arts video lessons (“Masterclass”), created in collaboration with the leading Italian culinary institute ALMA–The International School of Italian Cuisine, and tailored specifically to students at Chinese culinary institutes. The series comprises 6 video lessons, covering central topics in professional Italian cuisine including Pasta, Cheese & Cold Cuts, Extra Virgin Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegar, Bread, Pizza and Gelato.

Each video lesson is approximately 30-50 minutes long, and provides an in-depth presentation on Italian culinary arts, from culture and history to practical recipe instructions. These video lessons are designed to complement the existing curriculum at Chinese culinary institutes for students majoring in Western cuisines, offering a diverse understanding of authentic Italian cooking. Upon conclusion of the Masterclass series, participating students will take a final exam. Students who pass this final exam will receive a certificate awarded by ITA, which attests to a certain level of knowledge in Italian cooking attained through this Masterclass video series.

The second component of this program is the Italian culinary workshop, which is intended to provide practical demonstrations and guidance, building on the theoretical foundations in Italian cuisine attained through the Masterclass series. From May to June 2021, ITA will conduct a one-day workshop at 6 partner schools: Shanghai Institute of Tourism, Yangzhou University, Nanjing Institute of Tourism & Hospitality, Sichuan Tourism University, Beijing Union University and Shanghai Industrial & Commercial Polytechnic–Paramitta Institute of Culinary & Hospitality (PICH). The goal of these workshops is to offer participating students a holistic view of Italian cuisine, and to create a platform for meaningful interactions.

To that end, ITA will tailor these workshops to each school, and invite experts in Italian cuisine to conduct a series of on-site seminars and demonstrations that will provide students with an experiential understanding of the history and regional diversity of Italian gastronomy.

Thanks to the ideal Mediterranean climate and environment, Italy is home to a wonderful bounty of natural and organic food products cultivated across its diverse landscapes. To give students an essential understanding of Italian cuisine and lifestyle, the daylong workshop will offer a detailed presentation on products certified with Geographical Indications. In addition, the workshop will include tastings of these products, as well as interactive and multi-sensory experiences, so that students can attain an in-depth understanding of the characteristics of these ingredients.

Another highlight of the Italian culinary workshop is the hands-on practicums. ITA will invite Italian chef Fabio Camilloni to demonstrate authentic Italian cooking. This section of the workshop will consist of two parts. First, Chef Fabio will select 2 to 3 signature Italian recipes from the Masterclass series, and give students an in-person demonstration of the theoretical knowledge and process involved in these recipes. The second part is a hands-on practicum of these recipes, where students will make these dishes with the guidance of Chef Fabio and his assistants. Students who participate in the Italian culinary workshop will receive a certificate from ITA.

The third and final component of the Italian Culinary Program is a teachers’ workshop on Italian culinary education in the summer, Train the Trainer. This teachers’ workshop is offered to instructors at partner culinary institutes, with the purpose of providing a framework of culinary education in line with leading education systems in the world. The 6 participating culinary institutes will each select instructors to attend this summer workshop, which will be sponsored by ITA and held in Shanghai in July 2021.

The curriculum of this workshop will be designed in collaboration with ALMA–The International School of Italian Cuisine. ITA will invite the chef of a leading Italian restaurant in Shanghai to present this workshop, discuss industry trends with participating teachers and offer cooking demonstrations.

Luca Ferrari, Ambassador of Italy to the P.R.C., remarks, “The promotion of Italian cuisine and agri-food products is a key priority for Italy. Even more so in China, a country where a millenary gastronomic culture is also deeply rooted. At the very core of our culinary traditions lie the link between food and sustainable development, plus the concepts of food safety, territorial identities and biodiversities, as well as the protection of Geographical Indications. It is worth mentioning that Italy is the first European country per number of products protected as Geographical Indications and — with 26 products — the most represented country in the related Agreement signed between the European Union and China in September 2020.”

Gianpaolo Bruno, Trade Commissioner of ITA Beijing Office and Coordinator of ITA Offices in China and Mongolia, says, “Chinese and Italian gastronomic cultures are among the most important in the world. Mutual knowledge of both cultures is essential, especially today when it is possible to experience the tastes and traditions of each country. From this point of view, Italy has a lot to offer, also thanks to our extraordinary products like our quality wines, our delicious cheeses, prosciutto, pasta, balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and many others, some of which were recently recognized in an agreement between China and the European Union. ITA – Italian Trade Agency is undertaking an intense promotional campaign that will improve and deepen the knowledge and understanding of Italian geographical indications (GI) among the Chinese general public and professionals in the food industry. How do we do it? Our excellent food and wine products focus on salubrity and sustainability.

Enzo Malanca, President and CEO of ALMA–The International School of Italian Cuisine, says, “What we are experiencing even at this particular time is an even more motivated ALMA–The International School of Italian Cuisine, which maintains its peculiarities of excellence in teaching based fundamentally on the characteristics of Italian cuisine and food products. ALMA’s traditional didactics of excellence also makes use of technological connotation, which allows us to dialogue not only on a didactic level with our students, but also to spread the values of ‘Made in Italy’ around the world in projects such as this one in collaboration with ITA, one of our most important institutional partners. The aim of initiatives such as these is to provide future professionals on the international scene with a new awareness of Italian culinary culture, by explaining its production techniques and investigating its history and regional traditions, a mission that has always distinguished ALMA.”

Through this collaboration with leading culinary institutes in China, ITA hopes to encourage deep and meaningful exchanges in culinary education between China and Italy, and to build a strong theoretical and practical foundation in Italian cuisine for students at these institutes.

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