Italian Culinary Experience: California
Amore. That's what the Italian Culinary Experience is all about—a deep, abiding love for the vibrant traditions of Italy’s treasured cuisine. Designed by world-renowned Tuscan chef Cesare Casella, this program divides your time between two culinary capitals, the San Francisco Bay area and the famed Emilia-Romagna region, to provide one of the most comprehensive training experiences ever created for the aspiring Italian cook. Immersive and intensive, this seven-month experience will forever change the way you think about food, and about life. Check out our video at the bottom of this page to get a glimpse of what this program has to offer.
*This program is open to enrollment by M-1 nonimmigrant students.
ITALIAN CULINARY EXPERIENCE PROGRAM AT A GLANCE (HOVER OVER TIMELINE):
Get introduced to the kitchen with knife skills and safety training, along with how to purchase, clean, prepare and store fruits and vegetables.
Cheese + Antipasti
See, smell and taste a range of cheeses, as well as the varieties of cured meats and vegetables. Learn how to balance attributes and flavor
Learn essential preparations for salad and vegetable dishes, the accompaniments to any complete Italian meal.
Stocks, Soups, Sauces
Create stocks and sauces to be used in countless recipes and form the backbone of many dishes.
Pasta + Risotto
Beam with pride as you roll out your first sheet of fresh pasta! Learn other Italian mainstays, including gnocchi, risotto, polenta and rice.
Pizza + Bread
Practice essential techniques including mixing, shaping, baking and finishing on recipes like focaccia, calzone, crispy grissini and pizza.
Understand the cooking methods for Italian carni: chicken, duck, quail, beef, veal, pork, lamb and rabbit.
Learn the right techniques to prepare all kinds of pesci, from shellfish to flat fish and round fish.
Cover techniques for preparing authentic, delicious sweets: custards, cream puffs, sponge cakes, biscotti, gelato, sorbet, mousse.
History of Italian Cuisine
In Italy, class meets twice a week and explores how culinary traditions have been shaped by the events and geography of each region.
Language classes allow you to absorb the culture around you; classes are held three times a week right in your dorm in Italy.
16 Michelin-starred guest chefs from various regions in Italy show you techniques to prepare significant traditional local recipes.
Products and Raw Materials
Italian cuisine is strictly related to the availability and quality of raw materials, which you’ll get to experience through lectures and product tasting.
Cooking Practice and Recipes
Be fully immersed in Italian cuisine with the ability to professionally create, cook and present Italian dishes based on regional recipes.
Explore the technological aspects, grape characteristics and the power of Italian wine.
Five days of training are devoted to visiting some of Italy's most significant production sites, where you'll witness prized agricultural traditions.
Work in Italy
Through a special arrangement with the Italian government, you’ll stage (apprentice) at a highly rated Italian restaurant, located in one of Italy's 20 regions.
Authenticity from Day One
From the moment you arrive at our Campbell, CA, campus, you’ll be preparing for Italy. In ten fast-paced weeks, you’ll dive into Italian cooking fundamentals, authentic ingredients, traditional dishes and Italian language. Under the close tutelage of our experienced chef-instructors, you’ll gain a serious working knowledge of classic dishes ranging from antipasti to la dolce.
Then you’re off to Italy! For nine exhilarating weeks, you’ll study at our sister school, ALMA, The International School of Italian Cuisine near Parma, where you’ll expand your knowledge with history, visits from master chefs and field trips to the sources of authentic Italian cuisine: regional farms, factories and vineyards that employ traditional methods. As you taste and explore the local abundance — such as truffles, olive oil, wine, balsamic vinegar, Prosciutto di Parma and more — you’ll truly understand the Italian approach to ingredients and cooking.
A Day in the Life: Hear what it's like to be an Italian Culinary student living in Italy.
Work in Italy
Week 20 marks the beginning of a stage (apprenticeship) arranged with a highly rated Italian chef in his/her restaurant, improving your techniques and language skills every day. (Many of our students decide to stay as long as five months.) Students then return to ALMA for a final practical exam evaluated by a panel of esteemed Italian chefs and chef-instructors. When finished, you will have a top-rated European restaurant on your resume and vast knowledge at your command.
Available to a qualifying applicant.
Find out about our legendary deans, small class size and alumni network here.
- 10 weeks in the U.S., 18 weeks in Italy (9 weeks at ALMA, 9 weeks apprenticeship)
- Housing in Italy
- 12:1 student-to-teacher ratio
- Application fee, uniform, tool kit, books and supplies
- "Family meal” prepared by Culinary students
- Culinary Business workshops (online)
- Chef demonstrations with volunteer opportunities
- Carnegie Hall commencement
- Career Service counseling
Nearby housing is offered at both US campuses. Housing fees are separate from the cost of program tuition.
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At our California campus, you’ll spend your time in the kitchen learning authentic Italian cuisine, combined with language classes to prepare you to live, learn and work in Italy.
Things You Will Learn
- Language and culture
- Cheese and antipasti
- Stocks and sauces
- Pastas—dried, fresh and filled
- Pizza and breads
- Fish (round and flat fish, shellfish and seafood)
- Meat, poultry and game
- Regional side dishes
- Classic desserts and pastries
- Italian wine characteristics and pairing
Introduction: Get introduced to the kitchen with knife skills and sanitation training. You’ll cover how to purchase, clean, prepare and store fruits and vegetables, as well as learn about oils, vinegars and vinaigrettes, the authentic dressings that can enhance any recipe.
Cheese & Antipasti: Italy produces over 450 types of formaggi across its 20 regions. See, smell and taste a range of cheeses, as well as the varieties of cured meats and vegetables. Learn how to balance attributes and flavors, like acidity and sweetness, in dishes that include insalata di funghi, carpaccio alla cipriani and bruschetta al pomodoro.
Stocks & Sauces: Learn techniques to create stocks and sauces that are used in countless recipes and form the backbone of many dishes. You'll prepare recipes such as zuppa di ceci, pasta fagioli, zuppa di farro and other classics.
Pasta - Fresh, Dried and Filled: Beam with pride as you roll out your first sheet of fresh pasta. You'll make ragù di carne and gnocchi alla romana the way they were meant to be, and be introduced to other Italian mainstays, including hearty risotto, polenta and rice dishes like vialone nano.
Pizza & Breads: From rustic and crusty to sweet and flaky, Italian pane is famed for its distinct flavors and textures. You'll practice essential techniques that include mixing, shaping, baking and finishing on staple recipes like focaccia, calzone, crispy grissini and pizza.
Fish: Learn the right techniques to prepare all kinds of pesci, from shellfish to round fish. You'll learn how to check for freshness and practice scaling, trimming, gutting and filleting. and have the opportunity to refine your skills in poaching, sautéing and baking.
Meats: This unit runs the gamut of Italian carni: chicken, duck, quail, beef, veal, pork, lamb and rabbit. You’ll learn a number of cooking methods, sautéing, grilling, braising and roasting, and learn how to purchase, fabricate and store regional Italian varieties of meat, as well as their local preparations.
Contorni: No Italian meal is complete without a salad and vegetable side dish, and you'll learn the essential preparations used for all of them. You'll practice classic methods, including brasare, arrostire and frittura, and see firsthand how these ingredients combine in their own unique ways.
Desserts: And finally, la dolce! You'll cover techniques for preparing authentic and delicious sweets: custards, cream puffs, sponge cakes, biscotti, gelato, sorbet, mousse. Lessons include such popular desserts crostate, panna cotta, pasta sfoglia and tiramisu.
Under acclaimed Italian chefs at ALMA, the International School of Italian Cuisine led by Michelin-starred chef Gualtiero Marchesi, expand your cooking skills and supplement them with theory, history and more language. You'll visit regional farms, factories and vineyards to witness firsthand the production of authentic ingredients.
Things You Will Learn
- History of Italian cuisine
- Italian language
- Guest chef demonstrations
- Regional product tastings
- Cooking practice and recipes
- Wine education
- Italian pastries
Past Field Trips have included:
- Truffle museum
- Cheese production plants
- Parma ham production plant
- Vineyards in Toscana and Piemonte
- Olive oil mill in Toscana
- Balsamic vinegar acetaia
History of Italian Cuisine: Class meets twice a week and explores how culinary traditions have been shaped by the events and geography of each region. Understanding Italian ingredients and recipes in the context of where they originated is key to elevating your experience while in Italy.
Italian Language: Language classes allow you to absorb the culture around you and are held three times a week right in your dorm. Your teacher will prepare you with useful vocabulary to help you communicate at your stage.
Guest Chef Demonstration: 16 Michelin-starred guest chefs from various regions in Italy will show you techniques used to prepare significant traditional local recipes.
Products and Raw Materials: Italian cuisine is strictly related to the availability and quality of raw materials, which you’ll get to experience through lectures and product tasting.
Cooking Practice and Recipes: Through hands-on training and continuous demonstrations, you’ll be fully immersed in Italian cuisine with the ability to professionally prepare, cook and present Italian dishes based on regional recipes.
Wines: Wine is an integral part of Italian gastronomy, and wine's relationship to Italian culture, products and habits is as important as its regional variations. You'll explore the technological aspects, grape characteristics and the power of wine.
Pastry: Pastry holds an important place in Italian cuisine. You’ll learn to prepare a wide range of Italian pastries, including tiramisu, zuccotto, zuppa inglese, cassata siciliana, cannoli siciliani, pastiera napoletana, panettone, pandoro and more.
Field Trips: Five days of training will be devoted to visiting some of Italy's most significant production sites. You'll witness prized agricultural traditions, some of which are thousands of years old.
By week 20, you're ready to enter a professional kitchen. The stage (pronounced stahj) consists of a short-term apprenticeship in the restaurant of a highly rated Italian chef, located in one of Italy's 20 regions. All your training will come into practice, plus, when you finish, you'll have an internationally renowned restaurant on your resume.
Following your stage, you'll return to ALMA to complete your final, a practical exam that will be evaluated by a panel of distinguished professionals.