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Brushing Up On My Italian

So that time has come again… Salone del Gusto is happening this October. I attended the 2010 and 2012 editions. Both were amazing and I am VERY excited about this year! Let me catch up my newest readers… In a nutshell every two years I take a trip to Italy to this special festival where I take classes for a week to expand my culinary horizons. The first time I took 14 classes, the second time I took 25! The second time I think I got a little over ambitious. I was exhausted by the end of the week and had very little time to explore outside of the classes.

 Each time I have requested sponsors and received support. Thanks to them I have been able to take more classes, visit extra countries and experiment with new ingredients. Even though I am the one out there making things happen, I must admit that my small but incredible group of fans and sponsors are directly responsible for me being able to go past my financial means and learn even more! SO… Thank you again to those who have backed me in the past.

Yesterday the program for the festival was published. I noticed a few changes and some new additions to the festival. They have removed my favorite style of class which is the ‘Theater of Taste’, a demonstration style cooking class in an auditorium with a multi-course meal. This has been replaced with something new called the ‘Cooking School’, a hands-on style cooking class limited to 25 people. While this will be a much more engaging and tailored experience, I cannot help but wonder if I will run into the man with the white coat

Last time a new trend called ‘Eat-Ins’ was started by the Slow Food Youth organization and seems to be repeating itself this year. I look forward to being able to sit in on at least one, if not all of them, as I was unable to do so in 2012. An entire block of classes dedicated to spirits and the art of mixology has been added to the roster, which I am thrilled about. After my exploits with bartenders in Hawaii (something I will elaborate on later) I am excited to add to my newfound knowledge in this area. Another exciting new addition is ‘The Kiln: Bread and Pizza’, a hands-on set of workshops with some of the best pizza makers and bakers in Italy.

Marking the 10 year anniversary of Salone del Gusto, the Slow Food organization has gathered quite the group of Michelin starred chefs for the event. I can’t honestly say that I am impressed by the mere fact that a chef has stars, after eating at Michelin star restaurants and working in one… I am impressed by exceptional cooking, not stars. That said, others feel differently, case in point, a Dinner event with Enrico Crippa of Piazza Duomo in Alba, Italy has already sold out within the first 24 hours and with a hefty $285 price tag to boot!

While I have no intention of attending a dinner with such a price tag attached to it, I do look forward to attending numerous classes and finding new culinary professionals to network with. The selection process has already begun! I have a system I follow. I go through the entire list of available classes and activities, take note of the ones that sound the most interesting or educational for my purposes and begin my first draft list. After 4 hours and reading about the 241 workshops and conferences, I had a list of 80 that peaked my interest.

I am currently researching each chef or host for the 80 classes and then separating my list into 1st, 2nd and 3rd choices. I simply cannot take 80 classes, for many reasons. It is not possible within the timeline of the festival and I would likely die of information overload. The three-tier list is something I have devised, because usually by the time I have the money to purchase the classes, my first and or second choices have already sold out… An unfortunate but very real reality, seeing as the festival is open to anyone in the world and receives approximately 220,000 visitors in the 5 day span! That is an average of 50,000 a day! With class capacities averaging 30 spots, you can imagine how quickly they fill up.

I was tickled to watch the promo video for this year’s edition of Salone Gusto, which is a compilation of footage and photos from the last one. With 220,000 people in attendance in 2012, who should make an international quarter second cameo at the 1 minute and 32 second time mark? Little old me! I know, I know, a quarter of a second appearance is nothing to really write home about… However I choose to look at it as a sign! Plus I still have 14 minutes, 59.75 seconds of fame left to be used, if the old adage holds true.

I will keep you all posted about my class selection. I generally publish a game plan as well, with projected costs and goals. You are welcome to glance over my previous festival plans to gain some insight.  As always, if anyone would like to sponsor me, just write me and we can work out the details. Anything from good wishes to word spreading or airline miles to financial contributions of any size are very much appreciated! Thanks for stopping by!

Stay tuned…

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