A day at Alma, cooking school

Cooking classes, from basic techniques to professional courses, pastries, sommellerie courses, internships in starred restaurants. This and much more is Alma, the international school of Italian cooking, whose rector is the Great Teacher: Gualtiero Marchesi
The Emilian countryside, at summer, blind with the intensity of light reflecting on the golden fields, conquest with the scent of hay. In this bucolic world, a few kilometers from Parma, in a village of a few thousand inhabitants, Colorno within the majestic Royal Palace (in the nineteenth century home of Marie Louise of Austria, wife of Napoleon II), stands ALMA, the International School of Italian Cuisine, whose rector is none other than Gualtiero Marchesi. The greatest composer of the cuisine of our country gave the size to a dimension that surrounds anyone who set foot and leads to deeper understanding of our gastronomic heritage.  This academy trains future performers of Italian cuisine from every corner of our peninsula, but not only: from Brazil, America, Turkey, Canada, South Korea, Japan and Mexico, where they developed ALMA partnerships. In this University of Italian wine and food - containing more than a fully equipped kitchen, wine tasting rooms, a library with more than 6000 books from around the world for consultation, a growing cellar - students absorb the highest teachings, from the history of Italian cuisine, to the practical techniques, from pastries to wine tasting, to the food and wine pairings. The upper course of Italian cuisine lasts 10 months, of which the last 5 dedicated to internships in one of the starred restaurants in Italy, returned from this high level training, the aspiring chefs are final exams, oral and practical, with thesis included in the package! Here, therefore, an event to be attend, also to be observed even only from the outside to absorb all the knowledge on the high local cuisine. Young chefs have different stories and paths but with one common thread: the immense passion for cooking, for the infinite gastronomic customs and traditions present in a single nation, the aspiration to become good performers and, with the best wishes, good composers. After being tested during the months of training in close contact with the great professionals, students, concluded the training period (at least at the ALMA), face exams, practical and theoretical, discussing a written thesis on the cuisine of the area and about the typical products of the area in which they have made their first approach to the world of professional cooking. Regarding the practical examination, as well as presenting a menu (two or three courses) creative (but strongly influenced by the teachings of the Master and school teachers), the students must prepare a dish required, the same for everyone - for example saffron rice - and a variable, "caught" in the repertoire of recipes of Gualtiero Marchesi. The judges are famous chefs of Italian haute cuisine restaurants, food and wine critics as well as the pleasant Andrea Grignaffini (Espresso guide). This year there were, among others: Alessandro Gavagna – “Al cacciatore della Subida” – www.lasubida.it Alessandro Boglione – “Al castello di Grinzane” – www.castellodigrinzane.it Marco Dalla Bona – “Locanda stella d’oro” – www.locandastelladoro.it Vittorio Novani – “Hostaria del mare” Mauro Ricciardi – “Le Tamerici” – www.locandadelletamerici.com Massimo Spigaroli – “Antica Corte Pallavicina” – www.acpallavicina.com Matteo Vigotti – “Novecento” – www.nov-ece-nto.it Breathing, in the suffocating air of a midsummer day, the freshness and the strong will of these future chefs, I leave the Palace of Colorno with the deepest hope of a future proliferation of large and small restaurants led by excellent professionals of the highest Italian cuisine.