Dan has been with us twice, over two weeks in total. He reached out to us as head chef and second generation of a successful Italian restaurant in the UK, keen to improve his knowledge of authentic and traditional Emilian cuisine. He wanted to overturn some clichés surrounding Italian cuisine abroad and wanted to learn ‘the real, traditional way of doing things’. He was interested in seeing and learning about the production process of some of the most famous products, in particular Parmigiano Reggiano PDO, Mortadella PGI, Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena PDO and Prosciutto di Parma PDO. Dan also wanted a full-immersion into traditional pasta-making methods, add authentic dishes to add to his restaurant’s already existing menu and learn some new desserts and new Italian breads, in addition to ‘benchmarking’ the best Lasagne, Ragù, Polenta, Tiramisù and Semifreddo. He was also keen to learn more about truffles and experiment with some truffle dishes.
We first explained the differences between PDO and PGI products and the legally specified criteria for making the products. We organised a series of visits to small, artisan PDO and PGI food producers, learning about their production methods and doing various in-depth tastings. We organised several pasta-making sessions, with ‘Sfogline’ (traditional pasta-makers) in several restaurants so he could get a feel for the different techniques. We set up a cooking course/session in a local Michelin star restaurant renowned for its fidelity to traditional dishes using the finest quality local products as well as some other award-winning restaurants each famous for certain dishes that we believe they make to an excellent standard. We organised an 'eatinerary' - selecting several restaurants for Dan to eat in, where he could taste some more innovative uses of certain ingredients like truffles and other local products and organised some ad-hoc cooking courses with independent chefs for the dishes he wanted to perfect, as well as enabling him to ‘help out’ in a couple of the areas most illustrious kitchens.