By Kris Feliz,
ICC Italian Culinary Arts student.
So let me begin by telling you that ALMA, The International School of Italian Cuisine near Parma, where we went after 10 weeks at ICC in New York City, is amazing. The school is full of passionate instructors who have fantastic industry experience. In addition to cooking, we take field trips, have history classes, and get to live in Italy, of course.
The classes at ALMA are so inspiring, I could go on and on about this but it really boils down to the teachers here. It’s one of the top three culinary schools in the world and I completely understand from being here why that’s so. The administration takes our educational program very seriously and the team here works like a brigade of stations all complementing each other.
I miss home, my loving network, and dog tremendously… and ramen, and chocolate chip cookies! Lol. But I forget all the time what my life was like before culinary school. I used to walk dogs and think about food, break down recipes or marinate on specialty ingredients and the science of substituting. All those years of rainy walks and snowed through dog parks, poop bags, and doggie kisses – I never thought I’d take the leap and start my program towards fulfilling my dream to be a chef.
To be in such an incredible and fulfilling program makes the sacrifice so very worth it. This is something very special about ICC.
When I first thought about Italy, I thought about its strong agro-culinary culture but living here really brings to light that there is so much more to the Italian tradition than just farming and purely good ingredients. This country is amazing! No matter where I travel everything is rich with history: historic centers, buildings, monuments and churches. It’s all about respect and beauty here.
On the weekends I travel to nearby cities and it’s amazing how unique each experience is. It isn’t that expensive to travel and there is a whole new world beyond our dorms! I see history, traditions, and nature everywhere I go and it’s very beautiful here. The sweeping landscapes and vast farm country are amazing. It’s winter here now and I can only imagine how much more captivating it is during spring or summer. “Wow” is a common phrase.
Because of this experience I now understand that being a chef is much more than just cooking. It is a way of seeing things – an appreciation of sorts. A way of seeing what is special and complicated beyond simple appearances. I know now how chefs who understand and respect the essence of history and tradition become able to elevate and expand these boundaries in a groundbreaking way.
With only half of ICC’s Italian Culinary Experience program completed – I have mixed feelings of total excitement, total anxiety, and total humility at the thought of being in one of these professional kitchens. I’m throughly elated and so grateful everyday. I don’t know where I’ll be placed for stage (externship) yet, although I would LOVE to be in southern Italy – Calabria. I’ll let you know when I find out!