By Kate Rickard
Photo courtesy of FUA

At Ganzo, Apicius’ creative learning lab, students and faculty create high quality, versatile and seasonal menus. The learning lab is special to the school and represents an approach to experimental and hands-on learning. FUA holds Ganzo close to its heart when it comes to teaching students the flavors and preserving the cuisine of Italy.
Getting involved is simple. By enrolling in courses with Ganzo projects, students are involved in areas such as food safety and planning, guest service and relations, sales, human relations, dining services, menu planning, wine list development, and cellar management.
There are also many events that are held at Ganzo throughout the year. One of the most popular are the themed dinners on Thursday nights at 8:30 p.m. The dinners include prix fixe menus featuring Apicius students and faculty as well as special guest chefs from Italy.
The recently held La Gastronomia Italiana March 23 themed dinner – prepared by third-year advanced culinary students supported by hospitality and wine studies students in the front of the house – is an interesting example of a specific menu of Italian cuisine that featured the artisanal and high quality approaches to Italian food. Every food item was presented in a unique and unconventional way to give insight of the creative potential that Italian cuisine offers. Each dish was paired with a special wine for an explosion of flavor.
Italy has always been a synonym for “good food.” Aside from having one of the most famous cuisines in the world, it also proposes a variety of different regional dishes and recipes. Italian cuisine is strongly influenced by its local history and traditions as well as its seasonal availability of products. With this being said, the Italian menu is typically structured in much the same way all over Italy – with an antipasto, primo, secondo, and dolce.
The themed dinners offered by Ganzo are a great way to teach international students about the food culture of Italy. The mixture between history and tradition when it comes to food is an innovative (and delicious) way to learn about Italy. Each course provided is specifically crafted to educate individuals about the region where the meal was originated and which ingredients were used. These multi-course dinners are also a tool for interaction between the students, faculty, and the Florence community.
FUA student and dinner attendee Taylor Tesoriero shared a post-dinner comment about the learning benefits of the themed dinners:
“I think Ganzo is a great way to connect FUA students to the Florence community. By attending the La Gastronomia Italiana themed dinner tonight, I learned a lot about the local Tuscan cuisine and what ingredients are used in certain dishes. Italians are passionate about how certain ingredients are utilized and what ingredients are in season. Each plate was truly a work of art and gave an essence of creativity in the kitchen. You can really tell how much they love to cook by the deliciousness and presentation of the food they put on your plate.”
FUA puts a large emphasis on the student-community relationship. With the Ganzo project managed by the Apicius hospitality division, the goal of cultural and community engagement is accomplished. From art to culture to Italian cuisine, you can find it at Ganzo.

Via dei Macci 85/r
Tel. 055 241076
Hours: Monday-Friday, lunch and dinner, noon to midnight