Visit with TuttoToscana’s Wine Sponsors Vias Imports Ltd.

By Yedi Scargall

The TuttoToscana wine service team meets Vias Imports Ltd, the wine importer and distributor that will be providing the wine for the week of events in NYC.

As the TuttoToscana wine service team, we had the remarkable opportunity to visit the New York City headquarters of Vias Imports Ltd. We were thrilled to meet with members of their operational and sales staff. In a first-time collaboration for Florence University of the Arts TuttoToscana program, the wines being served have been provided by this New York-based wine importer and distributor. Vias offers one of the most comprehensive portfolios of high-quality, unique, and distinctive Italian wines in the U.S. market.

The passion and dedication of the Vias staff quickly became evident as our meeting progressed. The company’s commitment to wine education aligns well with the mission of TuttoToscana as an academic program. Giuseppe Capuano, Director of Operations, encouraged us to develop a sound understanding of the history, geography and technical profile of the wines we will present this week. The culture of education fostered by this company is apparent in every element of their work. As a final treat, we toured the New York City wine cellars with Enrico Contini, Vias Purchase & Traffic Manager, and saw the range of producers the company represents.

Meet the TuttoToscana front of the house team and the final roundup of our culinary brigades:

Kerry Callender –USA
Kerry Callender has changed her career and made the exciting transition into the hospitality field. She earned an Associate’s degree in Culinary Arts & Applied Nutrition from the Culinary Institute of Virginia and is in her final semester of obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in Food Service Management. Kerry met the staff of FUA at the National Restaurant Association Food Show in May and knew immediately that she wanted to participate in the TuttoToscana program. She believes the hospitality field enables her to be her most authentic self and has embraced the learning opportunities provided by the faculty at FUA.

Yedi Scargall – Canada
As part of the front of house team, Yedi Scargall began studying in Florence with a focus in the wine of Tuscany and restaurant management. She is excited to take the knowledge she has learned from FUA and put it to practical use. The TuttoToscana program allowed Yedi to improve her knowledge of the event management field while giving her the opportunity to study abroad. Along with being able to try a variety of Tuscan wines, Yedi’s main highlight was being able to practice FOH skills at the FUA restaurant, Ganzo.

Natalia Gonzalez Restrepo – Colombia
Studying at FUA in the Master’s program, Natalia Gonzalez Restrepo travelled all the way from Columbia to join the Baking and Pastry team. After arriving in Florence in July, she has been able to study in the FUA Apicius kitchens and put her previous experience from her home institution in Columbia to good use. After starting her degree in baking and pastry she fell in love with culinary arts and gastronomy and knew that it was her true passion.

Samantha Yenney – USA
Studying pastry arts at Kirkwood Community College, Samantha Yenney could not pass up the amazing opportunity of being able to work at the JBF. In 2016, her program director made a connection with FUA at the National Restaurant Association. She was then presented with the opportunity to study abroad in Florence, Italy. She will be graduating in December 2017 after completing her program at FUA. She was pleasantly surprised at how TuttoToscana, a full-length program, allowed her to be fully immersed in the preparation and delivery of the JBF Gala Dinner.

Sarah Hegge – USA
From Albuquerque, New Mexico, Sarah Hegge is pursuing a double major in culinary arts, baking and pastry at the Denver campus of Johnson and Wales University. After taking her university’s Introduction to Italy course over the summer, Sarah was invited to join the TuttoToscana Culinary 2017 team. She began her post-secondary education debating whether to study music, special education or culinary arts and in the end decided that her true passion was in culinary field. A culinary degree will allow Sarah to teach and help people not only learn how to cook nutritionally, but also help them to understanding proper diets.

Alice Kolder – USA
In the TuttoToscana Culinary team, Alice Kolder was raised on a farm where cooking and baking was a part of her family tradition. From a family of chefs, Alice followed her passion and decided to get a degree in culinary arts at Kirkwood Community College. She hopes to be able to continue her education there with either the baking program or the horticultural studies, as she loves farming and would love to once again take courses that she could put to practical use with her family. After studying at FUA in June, Alice was invited back and was able to complete the whole TuttoToscana four-week program in both Florence and NYC.

Jill Hamill –USA
Jill Hamill is a recent graduate with a degree in culinary arts and restaurant management from Suffolk Community College in Long Island. As her father battled cancer, five years ago, Jill was motivated to fill in his role as the chef in the house. His inspiration drove her to study culinary arts, which she continues to do today. She works three jobs and does private catering on the side however she feels that her fifteen hour days are well worth it because of how much she loves culinary arts. While she wasn’t certain about starting in this very competitive and intense field, she absolutely loves what she is doing and the amazing opportunities she has been able to experience.

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