In Florence’s historic centre, the Cordon Bleu Cooking Academy offers a selection of amateur and professional courses for improving the skills of every chef. The idea is to create a common thread between history, tradition, and culture, with an eye on internationalization.
Located in a prestigious 16th century building in the heart of Florence, the Cordon Bleu Cooking Academy is an important culinary school, the oldest one in operation in Italy and one of the largest in central Italy. Led, since its establishment, by Cristina Blasi and Gabriella Mari, two very different individuals who complement one another perfectly, it offers, in addition to professional and amateur courses, a wide range of individual laboratories and company team building experiences as well.
This broad vision and selection has given birth to the desire for every chef, whether professional or amateur, to get a taste of the complexity of Italian cuisine. “In particular”, says Guido Mori, director of the academic courses, “we’re interested in the relationship between food, history, tradition, and memory. Our strengths are fresh pasta (the heart of our school), bread and pastry making, the more modern fermentation techniques, and grilling techniques.
The school’s spirit is articulated in everything from amateur cooking classes to academic courses. To that end, we boast a collaboration with Florence’s IUL University.” The school also offers classes in French, Asian, and Middle Eastern cuisines, and awards a European Bachelor in Italian Culinary Arts, with the intention of embracing and seeking to appreciate every aspect of culinary knowledge while always innovating the overall vision.
There’s no specific target: from housewives to young men and women, from executives to foreigners, or anyone else who wishes to learn more about cooking, whether as an interest or with the goal of turning it into a career.
One thing for certain is that at the centre of the current discussion are, as Gabriella Mari, the owner of the school, explains, “the relationship between man and nature, the reduction in waste, and the balance between food and wellness. These are definitely today’s most relevant topics. However, I don’t want to detract from another aspect of this modern conversation, which is that of the relationship between food, man, and socialization: so-called ‘conviviality’.”
A conviviality that’s inherent to our tradition, whose roots stretch all the way down to the very crux of what it means to gather around the table, and which is today being re-examined thanks to lifestyles, influences, and new trends. “Italian food,” continues Mori, “is the sum total of all of its regional cuisines.
Italy’s culinary identity can only be found within its regional identities and not at the national level, to the point that a truly Italian cuisine doesn’t exist, as it is, rather, a combination of products and techniques that are separated geographically.
Perhaps, if one wanted to create a definition of Italian food, one could say that it consists of a cuisine which begins with a product and then elaborates it perfectly to make it exceptional.”
What’s very important in this vision is the role of cross-contamination with other culinary styles, in particular ethnic ones, which are carefully analyzed within the school.
“Every Italian region,” adds Mari, “has been effected by the arrival of other cultures. If, for example, one thinks of the impact of Nordic and Middle Eastern cultures on Sicilian cuisine, one realizes the extent to which history, culture, and food have taken the best of what was offered. It’s from this perspective that we must look at the influence of ‘fusion’ on Italian food. There’s no doubt that this cuisine’s strength is precisely that of taking the best of every method and making it its own.”
But while we’re seeing a constant propensity towards all things new, towards an interaction with original influences from other cultures, when it comes to equipment the vision is quite different.
In fact, we’re increasingly seeing a return to simplification and tradition, as the director affirms: “After a period of incredible innovation, which has seen tools aimed at regeneration and storage techniques arrive on the market, I believe that the new trend will be to rediscover a culinary style made up of impromptu preparations with an enormous reduction in menu complexity.
We’re seeing culinary styles that are increasingly connected to the context in which they’re found and to seasonality. For this reason, I believe that most tools which will hit the market in the coming years will be related to direct cooking methods with a focus on grilling techniques, which have, regardless, been gaining ground in all cuisines for years.”
One eye on the past, therefore, and one on the future, which will be profoundly affected by the financial and social trends in our country, in turn highly conditioned by tourism.
“This is the data which we can definitely observe at the global level,” concludes the owner. “A general impoverishment given the progressive pandemic, the search for a general balance between man and nature, the desire to leave the home and engage in fact-to-face interaction with people, the search for authentic and explicit experiences, in which the ingredients stand out, with fragrances and flavours and the significance of what the product is.
That’s why we can easily say that the cuisine of the near future will be one that focuses on the relationship between man and nature that asks to be experienced in person and in a group, that’s explicit and affordable.” With a perfect balance between value, quality, and experience.