The new University of Gastronomic Sciences project, Tavole Accademiche (Academic Tables), was presented in Bra (Cuneo) today. Designed to ensure excellent food at reasonable prices while avoiding waste, it will revolutionize the way in which cafeterias are organized. The project seeks to give a new meaning to the word “cafeteria” through the idea of getting together round the table to share food. From January 2013, 25 chefs from nine countries boasting a total of 22 Michelin stars, including the likes of Antonio Santini, Niko Romito, Ferran Adrià and Alice Waters, will come to Pollenzo to pep up the university cafeteria. The principles behind the initiative are innovative, pricing first and foremost. “The cost of the primary ingredients used by the chefs must not exceed five euros,“ explained Carlo Petrini, president of the University and the brains behind the Tavole project. Not that economics is everything. “We’ll be aiming above all at sustainability and the elimination of waste, thereby restoring value to our much maligned food system. To make sure the initiative is a success, we’ve also come up with stratagems such as the selling off of leftover food in the afternoon straight after the lunches.” “The whole restaurant industry ought to be following these principles, cutting waste and costs,” added Davide Scabin of the Combal.Zero restaurant in Rivoli (Turin), who will be the first chef to cook on the Tavole Accademiche project.
“The only way we can tackle the crisis is by creating a new sustainability of labor, not only of food. I joined the initiative immediately, without an instant’s reflection, because it’s quite simply a stroke of genius!” Other leading players will be Ugo and Piero Alciati, who run the Da Guido restaurant in Pollenzo, Maura Biancotto and Beppe Barbero of the Albergo dell’Agenzia di Pollenzo restaurant, and four University students, Maya Sfair, Jacqueline Blazer, Lapo Querci and Andrea Riboni, who will form the kitchen staff. ”Opening up the Agenzia kitchens, which we have named after Lidia and Guido Alciati, has given us the chance to rethink the cafeteria and free it from the modern-day view of it as an ascetic place in which food has lost its convivial, wholesome character,” concluded the dean of the University Piercarlo Grimaldi. The chefs’ recipes and stories will be catalogued in the “Granaries of Memory”, the University’s large-scale project to conserve Italian history and tradition.
Alongside Tavole Accademiche, the University will also develop another project, Scuola di alta cucina domestica italiana (School of Italian Domestic Haute Cuisine), a course on which participants will learn to cook the hallmark dishes of Italy’s rich gastronomic tradition.
The practical side will be backed by theory, with University lecturers explaining the history and culture of the gastronomic traditions of the regions in question.
Both Tavole Accademiche and Scuola di alta cucina domestica italiana have been devised in compliance with the principles of reduced environmental impact and energy consumption, hence in line with the values of the concept of eco-gastronomy promoted by Slow Food.