Experience the fine art of preparing authentic Italian cuisine with Spring 2022 student Emily Wange. 

***This is an example of a student’s experience from Spring 2022. Specific programming and activities are subject to change semester by semester.

Something that’s helped me become immersed in the culture in Florence has been attending the events planned by Verto. With all expenses paid last night, we had an authentic Italian three-course meal. We dined on pasta, salad, and bread, but the best part of the meal was  that we made it ourselves by learning from a Florentine chef at a culinary school. 

Getting to the cooking class was an adventure on its own. We met up in the city central square and found our student life coordinators that led the way through the city until we found the school. After some hand washing and getting suited up in our aprons, it was time to start preparing our meal by first prepping the chocolate soufflé. We learned how to whip egg whites into stiff peaks and the chef even flipped the bowl upside down to check and see if they were whipped well enough (luckily they all were). With everything mixed, our soufflé batter smelled like good old Swiss Miss hot chocolate. We let the soufflé sit while we started on the potato soufflé. Our chef instructor was so fun and taught us so much in such a short amount of time. After finishing our soufflé, it was time for what we were all anxiously waiting for… PASTA! Yes, that’s correct, we were going to be making authentic pasta from scratch from a talented chef in Italy! We learned knife skills for the various vegetables in the sauce consisting of garlic, purple onions, celery, and carrots. I was shown techniques that were completely new to me and was stunned by how small the chef was able to quickly mince each ingredient. We finished all the tedious knife cuts without any injuries and added them to the separate pots. One was an oregano tomato vegetarian pasta and the other was a turkey, beef, and vegetable ragù sauce.

Finally, it was time to make our linguine! After the demonstration from the chef, we were set to work. We whisked egg and flour together in a small bowl (can you believe there are only 2 ingredients in pasta?!), then kneaded the dough that formed on the table, which I learned is much easier said than done. We found ourselves laughing about how this cooking class had turned into an arm workout to get the dough just right. Once everything was kneaded together it was time to use the fancy pasta machine to roll out the pasta several times before we cut it into the linguine strips. We compiled our pasta into a mountain and the rest was up to the chef to assemble. In the meantime, we sat together at the table laughing and eager to sample our work. Our first dish arrived on the table. The potato soufflé was light, sweet, and gone within seconds. Next was the hand-made pasta, starting with the vegetarian tomato dish. This was unlike anything I’ve eaten in America. In my opinion, meat sauce was even better. This pasta was rich in flavor and the perfect texture. The pasta was devoured within minutes. Finally, it was time for dessert. The flavors of the chocolate soufflé were rich and complex, however making it was simple enough that I can easily recreate it in my apartment! 

Activities like these make me feel more connected with my new home. My advice to anyone starting college with Verto? Do the planned activities! The student life coordinators are always so helpful and ready to offer any insider tips for things to do while we are here that only locals would know about. I will forever be dreaming about that amazing meal I shared with my fellow chefs here from this amazing experience abroad!