as part of his prize, George Tomlin has an incredible trip visiting several regions in Italy – put together by Sanpellegrino, Electrolux & Appetite. From visiting Italy’s international culinary school ALMA to learn more about Italian cuisine, staging with Michelin star chef Giancarlo Morelli & sampling the delights at Parma to seeing the intricacies of how kitchen equipment is made.
thursday 01 october
travelling from Venice to Pordenone by train was just over an hour. All to my left in the distance were what I found out later to be the start of The Alps on the border of Austria. In front of the alps were lots of vineyards – the view couldn’t have been more perfect. Arriving into Pordenone, Electrolux chef Maximillian Zedelmeier showed me around the streets stopping for an Aperol spritz before heading to dinner. A perfect evening eating & drinking like a local with great hosts.
friday 02 october – day 1
today was an amazing experience. I had the opportunity to see first hand how Electrolux approach innovation. It was pretty impressive seeing their showroom which included a large Molteni Range Cooker which apparently is worth more than a Lamborghini….
It was eye opening as they produce more or less every component onsite and alot is handmade with a strong focus on being sustainable and low energy. It’s all so advanced, I didn’t know you could get ovens to do the things that these ovens do – such as controlling the humidity inside the ovens.
After checking out the equipment, I had the chance to test run some of it with Chefs Maximilian [Zedelmeier] and Mauricio [Bottega]. Throwing on a chefs jacket & apron – the first in a while – they showed me around their kitchen where we cooked lunch, talked ingredients & tested out the equipment. It was great to be able to get in the kitchen after not being in one for a few weeks.
To be honest, I was curious to visit the factory to see how the equipment we use everyday is created, but had no idea how interesting it really is! It was an incredible experience, run by brilliant people and I have learnt alot from the visit. Now… to find a wine bar to digest all of that information!
saturday 03 october – day 2
Venice is beautiful. Incredible architecture and just so different to anything I’ve ever seen before. I found a small enoteca that looked slightly annoyed with my non-existent Italian so I had an amazing lunch there. Eating and drinking lots of local food and wine. I’m becoming obsessed with a local dish called Baccala it’s basically salted cod usually with polenta or on bread.
sunday 04 october – day 3
travel is very unique here in Venice… Today I caught the water bus through Venice from San Marco Piazza to Santa Lucia train station to reach my next destination, Colorno.
Colorno is a small. There is an old palace which just happens to house the ALMA - the international culinary institute in Italy. Luckily, I’m also staying here for the next few days in ALMA’s accommodation. They kindly placed a big basket of food just in case I got hungry, which is definitely not been an issue since arriving in Italy.
monday 05 october – day 4
Today started at 8am with Diana – my ALMA host – giving me a guided tour through the school and grounds. And it’s impressive! There is so much to explore here, laboratories, cellar, training kitchens, demo kitchens, correspondence worldwide and what they teach is at a very high level. The school was set up 12 years ago with Gualtiero Marchesi as the main chef behind it. He’s written a lot of books and although some might not agree he is seen as one of the founders of modern Italian cuisine.
After the tour I did some basic Italian pastry work with Fulvio Vailati, including Rum Baba, Tiramisu and Fruit Crostata followed by lunch. There is one main kitchen that is huge where the classes take turn in feeding everyone every day for lunch. They use all the leftover food from the classes so very little is actually wasted. The ‘leftovers’ are well thought out banquet dishes – so it’s a fantastic staff meal.
The afternoon consisted of wine training in the cellar. And what a training session! For this I had a couple of sommeliers and a translator Myriam Caccavelli who was brilliant. I learnt about the basics of wine, how they grow and harvest in Italy as well as how many variables there are and how much it differs even in the same regions.
A great day!