Italian Trade Agency Debuts New Video Series To Protect True Old World Quality
Genuine integrity has long been a hallmark of great Italian food. From oils and cheeses to what is served by top chefs around the globe, the Italian food industry has repeatedly taken that extra mile to protect its reputation.
With that spirit, the Italian Trade Agency (ITA, previously Italian Trade Commission) has debuted an educational element to pursue its promotional strategy. This Fall, the Italian Restaurants Today campaign launched a new curriculum of virtual masterclasses for restaurateurs to ensure that they’re keeping up with the golden standards of Italian restaurants in the U.S.
The need for masterclasses arose from a substantial wave of new American tourists, coming back home from Italy with high expectations and seeking the same genuine flavors and superlative culinary experiences. Responding to this trend, Antonino Laspina, U.S. director of the Italian Trade Agency (ITA), developed a series of professional seminars to capitalize on what he defined as a fantastic phenomenon. “We have an important task to accomplish,” Laspina declares, “we have to make sure that chefs and dining consumers understand the uniqueness of what makes the Italian products special.”
The courses, still available online, are taught by two-star Michelin Chef Ernesto Iaccarino and Chef Andrea Zanin named ‘best Italian pastry chef of 2005-2006.’ Those world-renowned authorities shared both Northern and Southern Italian cooking personal journeys with hundreds of eager attendees. Both chefs illustrated the ingredients and procedures of making the dishes, while also encouraging individual creativity within the process.
The masterclasses were designed to explain three crucial aspects that discerning palates and globetrotters are now looking for: quality, technique, and presentation. “Ingredients are fundamental for the quality of Italian foods,” Laspina told TFS, “if they use products not originally made in Italy, they cannot guarantee optimal performance of the dish, as expected by the customers. It’s one thing to use Italian mozzarella, another is to use local mozzarella. You can do it, but it is different.”
After learning about how to recognize the right ingredients and the narrative behind each recipe, mastering the art of cooking is the next step toward impressing customers–the setup of the restaurant completes the whole package.
“Italy is the land of design, including very sophisticated furniture. [Restaurants] should also be curated places where people can enjoy great food and wine, in an inviting setting” Laspina remarks, adding “It’s the cuisine that has conquered the world and these flavors have very distinct characteristics.”
Together, the two masterclasses can make a lasting impression on a menu, with an unforgettable entrée -dessert combination. Chef Iaccarino’s class focused on preparing Strascinati di Nonno Ernesto (pictured at top), a family-owned signature filled pasta on a light San Marzano tomato ragout. Chef Zanin, on a sweeter note, illustrated the scrumptious and energizing Tiramisù, which originated in his Veneto Region, providing surprising insights into the making of the most common dessert worldwide. All the professionals participating in the classes had the chance to be awarded for their dishes, based on creativity, execution, and appearance. The top chefs in each category were also invited to feature their creations during the Week of Italian Cuisine in their restaurants and they are now listed on the campaign’s official website.
Although a lot of chefs are quite opinionated about their processes, Laspina said that the classes are geared towards “professionals that are conscious, aware of ‘I need to change because the times they are a-changin!’ as Bob Dylan would say!”
ITA’s mission is to assist, inform and educate Italian companies that intend to come to the U.S. by helping them understand the regulations in place. Those companies extend beyond the scope of restaurants though, reaching everyone who contributes to their lifestyle and brand. Laspina defined this as, “Food and wine [companies], combined with other factors such as art, architecture, music [and] design – they all combine to define what we call the ‘Italian Culture.’” That culture, Laspina said, is all about quality. “If there’s no quality, forget about it.”
The masterclasses with their recipes and techniques can be found on the Italian Restaurants Today website. In the future, Laspina hopes that the ITA can offer in-person classes for professional chefs whose aspirations are to capture the true essence of Italian cuisine.
For additional information about the Italian Trade Agency, please visit Italian Trade Agency website.
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