Welcome to CiboChat!

CiboChat is the Food and Culture blog of FUA Florence University of the Arts. This blog project reflects our aim to share the cultural and especially gastronomic experiences of our students, faculty, staff, and Florentine locals. Check out our Florentine Food Guide for how to dine like a local!

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TuttoToscana - James Beard Foundation

First Trial Dinner at Ganzo: Autumn in the 60’s

By Eva Bjorg Eyjolfsdottir and Delaney Goff
Photo by authors

The theme of Friday night’s Ganzo menu was “La Dolce Vita” which is this year’s theme at Tutto Toscana. The 1960’s were characterized by novelty and experimentation within the food industry. Although experimentation was incorporated into new dishes, traditional dishes still thrived.

The menu is inspired by the seasonal flavors of Autumn. In the various courses, you might find hidden chestnuts or sweet grapes to compliment the current Fall season. It is composed of courses that will be featured in New York City at the James Beard Foundation for Tutto Toscana 2018.

The welcoming meal was composed of two different Vol-au-vent. The first was filled with whipped blue cheese, pear, ginger and walnut, and the latter with mortadella mousse and a kiwi grape salad. There was also a crunchy flatbread with chicken liver pate.

The appetizer was a poached egg with Nicoise salad followed by a first course of chickpea and chestnut soup with seafood ragout and raw broccoli. The main course was pan fried salted cod with grapes, served with beetroot. Finally, dessert was inspired by very popular desserts in Italy in the 70’s, such as Fiesta and Girella.

The pairing of the ingredients in the first course complimented each other beautifully, and the clients were pleasantly surprised.

According to the culinary students, the main dish was the most challenging. The difficulty came in balancing the salted cod with the sweetness of the grapes.

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What “La Dolce Vita” Means to Me

By Quinn Bauld
Artwork by Andrea Mancini

Creative writing student Quinn Bauld explores this year’s TuttoToscana theme. 

La dolce vita is rather a lifestyle, a glamorous depiction that anyone can be free and live their best life. It means by definition “life of heedless pleasure and luxury.” The theme for this year’s James Beard Foundation is inspired by Federico Fellini’s movie La dolce vita and about the lavish way of living in Italy in the 1960’s when enchantment began.

The James Beard Foundation is a non-profit organization that was named after a chef, James Beard, who helped educate and mentor young and eager chefs to become as knowledgeable as him to cook with healthy, wholesome food. Florence University of the Arts is collaborating with the James Beard Foundation to create a timeless piece of Italian history through the dishes prepared.

I am helping this dream-like picture occur by writing descriptions in the creative writing class that I am taking while studying abroad at Florence University of the Arts. Everyone has come together to portray a message about the beauty and excitement of Italy in the 1960’s. All aspects of this project are interesting because all of the students under the TuttoToscana program join together and showcase the food during this specific time period.

The theme of the movie was not just an inspiration to viewers in the 1960’s, but to generations to come about working and making life what they wanted it to be. Anyone can be inspired by this motto the movie instills in its viewers. Everything back then was relatively conservative and this movie shows that one can truly be free if they desire to be. All in all, La dolce vita the movie and meaning give us hope.

Art and Places: From Renaissance Florence to the Contemporary Metropolis

Professor Lucia Giardino
By Quinn Bauld, Alana Betancourt, and Bianca Carangelo
Photo by Lisa Proteau

Students of the Art and Places: from Renaissance Florence to Contemporary Metropolis class had their first encounter with Florentine artist Andrea Mancini to preview his artwork for the upcoming TuttoToscana event in NYC.

Art and places are connected in countless ways. Art can be a painting, a beautiful architecture, but also a gorgeous view. So art can also become a place, or many places, like Ponte Vecchio, the Florence Cathedral, Piazza della Signoria, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Without the great artists of our past and present, we would not have masterpieces such as the Sistine Chapel or the Empire State Building.

In our second day of class today, we met Andrea Mancini, a Florentine artist, soon to exhibit in New York in the contest of TuttoToscana 2018, and from him we have learned many things about his sources of inspiration dating back to the 1960’s.

In the 1960’s, Italy was booming from the economic miracle that occurred after WWII. Boomers, who were teenagers, found themselves with more money than they had been used to. This increased spending dramatically, expanded industry in general, including the food industry. The increased industry also made travel to Tuscany much more common, which allowed many to come and explore its beautiful historic places as well as the new cuisine that had come to existence due to the ability to purchase more expensive ingredients. In 1966, Florence was damaged by an infamous flood, yet this dramatic event moved many foreigners to come to Tuscany to help recover the Renaissance city. Those that helped were called the “Mud Angels”, youths who worked to contribute to the restoration process, and found their Dolce Vita, a sweet lifestyle made iconic by Federico Fellini’s 1960 movie. Ironically then, the flood turned out to work as a new propeller for Florentine pride in maintaining its historical and religious beauty, and young people took part in this Second Renaissance.

Walking in Florence, you might think that it dramatically differs from New York City, where buildings and artwork are very up to date and life is very fast paced. Tuscany seems to live a much more relaxed and slower paced lifestyle.

But both places are appealing to the eye of its citizens and travellers. So despite their overall differences, both cities are able to convey meaning and experiences contemporary to our own time.

Even if we have been here for just a few days, we have discovered that Florence’s art is not only about statutes, paintings, and architecture of the past: just like New York City, it has its own street art, graffiti, and even contemporary art, yet it is the renovated care of its visitors and locals that always makes it glamorous.

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4th Annual Alumni Dinner at the James Beard Foundation

By Kerry Callender

FUA Alumni Dinner Closes Off TuttoToscana 2017.

Traveling from as far away as California, to as close by as downtown Manhattan, FUA alumni reunited with old classmates to share memories, network and celebrate all things Tuscan! The rainy weather did little to dampen the high spirits of former students from various academic and professional backgrounds who are all connected by the FUA experience.

The evening’s menu echoed the 2017 TuttoToscana theme, Fragments of Tuscany, and contained whimsical descriptions of the dishes written by the current FUA creative writing students. Featured wines for the evening included a Vernaccia DOCG 2016 and a Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG 2015, both from the La Lastra winery.

Organized by the FUA Alumni Association, proceeds from the ticket sales will go towards funding a scholarship in memory of Apicius alumnus Cody Durbin. Each attendee received one raffle ticket with the option to purchase additional tickets by giving a donation to the scholarship. The prizes were very interesting this year. First prize was a wine tour for two with Apicius Friends wine producer, guided by an Apicius wine professor. Second prize included a Florence City wine tour for two, guided by an Apicius wine professor. The third prize consisted of a dinner for two at a local Florentine restaurant.

The event was also an opportunity to unveil the FUA Alumni Ambassador Program, which will launch in 2018. The Ambassador Program will draw upon interested alumni to serve as mentors to prospective and current students, act as a point of reference for Alumni peer-networking, support FUA staff in promoting FUA programs and events, and provide feedback and suggestions to the On-Campus Alumni Coordinator in Florence.

As we checked-in our alums at the entrance, gave them their raffle tickets for the evening, invited them to sign the memory book, and directed them to the reception area, we heard story after story about how the FUA experience impacted their lives. These stories of the transformational FUA experience are waiting to be shared with a whole new generation of students, so they too can become a part of the rich tapestry that is the FUA family.

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TuttoToscana 2017 – James Beard Foundation Gala Dinner

By Kerry Callender

The capstone event of the TuttoToscana event week was a success!

The big day had finally arrived and the event was sold out! Months of painstaking planning, weeks of trials and tastings, and long days of intense preparation had culminated in the most anticipated event of the TuttoToscana cycle – the gala dinner at the James Beard Foundation.

Brigade members reported to the James Beard House at 8:00 am to begin production, while the front-of-the-house team huddled in the fourth-floor board room to work out last minute details for the evening’s menu and wine presentation.

Under the curious gaze of some guests and the JBF Kitchen Cam, brigade members prepared a lavish six-course meal reflecting the theme Fragments of Tuscany. The mild October weather proved ideal for serving the aperitivo course in the outdoor garden area and the evening got off to a great start. Guests occupied tables on three floors of the House and seated service began with a baccalà antipasto, exquisitely paired with a Montecarlo Rosso DOC 2015 from Fattoria del Teso.

JBF staff served course after course with clockwork precision and each was enthusiastically received by our guests. From the electric energy of the dining room, to the bare contents of finished plates, to the smiles and compliments from diners, we garnered positive feedback about the guest experience in real time.

Wine and olive oil representatives, Enrico Contini of Vias Imports Ltd. (wine) and Joanne Lacina of Sun Grove Foods, Inc. (representing Pruneti olive oil), were also on hand to talk to guests about their respective products featured at the dinner. Many people took advantage of the opportunity to speak directly with our providers as they both stayed for the entire evening interacting with guests and energizing the front-of-the house team.

It was a great honor to welcome Francesco Genuardi, Consul General of Italy in New York and Deputy Consul, Isabella Periotto to the JBF gala dinner. FUA guests also included faculty and administrators from several educational institutions such as Fairfield University, Fashion Institute of Technology, Johnson & Wales University, Kirkwood Community College, Robert Morris University, Rutgers University, SUNY Stony Brook University, University of South Florida, Truman High School, and the High School of Fashion Industries.

Dinner ended with the presentation of our talented brigade, who were greeted with rousing applause from guests. It was their moment in the spotlight and boy did they shine! Brigade member, Justin Parrish, captures the team’s consensus about the TuttoToscana experience:

From Tuscany to New York City to the kitchen at the James Beard House, this last month has been an unforgettable experience with weeks full of long days, hard work and intense preparation. The honor of cooking in the kitchen of James Beard is something I will never forget and will always cherish. The memories of our flavors, the faces of our team and the feeling of watching beautiful food go out of the kitchen are the moments that I will always remember.

As the TuttoToscana team presented Fragments of Tuscany to a receptive New York audience, the memory of this experience has been indelibly etched in our hearts and minds.

Follow our journey from Florence to NYC on Facebook.


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