Review by Professor and Registered Dietitian Lucia Weiler
A Farm to Table Experience for HRT Culinary, Baking & Pastry, Food & Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyle Promotion Students
In May 2016, thirty students experienced the food, culture and lifestyle of the Mediterranean. The students arrived in Rome and travelled through the region of Tuscany and the food museums of Parma, Modena, and Verona to Venice on a culinary adventure led by two chefs and a registered dietitian, nutritionist.
There were a number of goals for the two-week culinary journey including, learning more about the Mediterranean diet and teaching ways to incorporate it into North American food and lifestyle, experiencing new cultures leading to personal growth and broadening career prospects. Students loved the journey of food, culture and experiential learning. Farm to table experiences including Parmesan cheese making, prosciutto ham curing, risotto rice growing, balsamic vinegar and wine aging, took students on the journey of authentic locally made foods.
Faculty member Lucia Weiler, Registered Dietitian, was inspired by the value and possibilities of the dietitian–chef partnerships that can bring to life the real, healthy Mediterranean way of eating. “Curating authentic experiences for students and seeing them inspired to learn about and enjoy Italian culture, food and healthy lifestyle was magical,” she says. “Teaching students about authentic food preparation and ingredient creation used in the healthy Mediterranean diet was designed to build their awareness and understanding of great tasting food with health benefits. What students learned on this trip can be applied in their professional and personal lives,” she adds.
Providing a first-hand experience to students on how local food is produced and eaten enhanced what the students are learning in the classroom. These experiences encourage students to ask deeper questions and analyze and examine the culinary experience, in the Mediterranean and worldwide.
The students’ host in Florence perhaps said it best, “International experience should be mandatory in hospitality.” “How amazing is it to be able to share in a job interview that you learned to prepare Italian food in Italy, using simple, quality ingredients that taste great and promote health,” adds Weiler.