By Lindsey Montpelier, Amber Smith, and Olivia Pollione
Photo by the Authors
We were able to sit down with one of FUA-AUF’s students, Suhee Park, who works closely with the chefs at Ganzo, the student and faculty-run restaurant here at FUA-AUF. Ganzo is a popular restaurant both with the students that attend the school and with the Italian locals. During our time with Suhee, she filled us in on what it’s like to be a SPEL culinary student here at FUA-AUF and what it was like to be a part of the student-run restaurant on campus.
Special Project Experiential Learning, or SPEL, is a program offered at FUA-AUF for students of various majors. According to the FUA-AUF website, experiential learning is “the proactive union between learning in academic environments and experiencing in close contact with the local population and territory”.
This is Suhee’s first year at FUA-AUF but she took part in a culinary program in Korea for a year before coming to Italy. When asked why she chose FUA-AUF, she stated, “I chose FUA-AUF because the experience-based approach … the curriculum is great with teaching in the [school] kitchen and having us apply it to Ganzo”.
At Ganzo, the students are treated like professional chefs and are expected to follow certain schedules. Lunch shift staff start at 8:30am, they begin the preparation for dinner and lunch and are out by 3pm. The dinner shift starts at 5pm and the students are expected to stay until the last customer leaves.
The type of opportunities that come with being a SPEL student in the culinary field is hands on experience with professional chefs that have worked in top rated restaurants and have owned their own. They use their skills to guide and teach the students whether that be at Ganzo or inside the classroom. An important skill they learn is how to create a cohesive menu, which is something they have the opportunity to do every week for Ganzo’s theme nights on Thursdays. The menus are put together a week before and the student chefs learn to prepare thirty dishes to come out at the same time.
The menu is put together by the students with guidance from their head chef but it is ultimately a combined effort of ideas and inspiration. Suhee mentioned many times that what goes on the menu is the result of a collaboration between many chefs because they tend to bounce ideas back and forth from each other. The restaurant’s menu changes every three weeks, giving the student chefs a chance to master certain skills within the kitchen.
“The pyramid structure of how a kitchen is run determines how things can work smoothly, or not go as planned” Suhee stated, but she enjoys the feeling of both the challenge and satisfaction of this high-pressure experience at Ganzo. After talking with her about her experience within the SPEL program, it is very obvious that Suhee is grateful for the opportunity she has been given and looks forward to every day that she gets to improve her skills.