By Becca Baitel
Florence University of the Art-The American University of Florence's CEO and President, Gabriella Ganugi, was recently interviewed by the Galilee Culinary Institute (GCI) Rosenfeld School of Culinary Arts’ podcast, What’s Burning, which interviews experts in the field to reimagine culinary education and inspire excellence. Scheduled to open its doors fully in person in 2023 in the agricultural region of Galilee, Israel, GCI spoke with Ganugi about her career as an entrepreneur, author, and pioneer in international higher education. Winner of both the 2010 Association of Italian American Educators “Educator of the Year” Award and the 2012 University of South Florida President’s Global Leadership, Ganugi has always possessed an aptitude for education and research, beginning her early career as an architecture student working in academia. She then went on to establish the Florence University of the Arts, including the world-renowned Apicius School of Hospitality in 1997, making the institution the first international hospitality school in Italy.
Once starting with as few as 62 full-time students, Apicius has flourished into an impressive institution boasting over 97% student employment rate after graduation, as well as a plethora of different facilities including the Fedora Pastry Shop, Sorgiva Spa, Ganzo Restaurant, Pomario Botanical Retail Store, and the fashion store, FLY. The President’s educational philosophy around experiential and community-based learning is particularly illustrated through the opportunities for culinary arts students. For Ganugi and many Italians, food is a central part of the culture - connecting people over a sit-down meal and fostering community, which for her, was monumental when she established Apicius.
“Usually, international programs or American programs in Florence tend to isolate students in an island program,” Ganugi states. “[At FUA-AUF], residents [are] coming in using the spa and pastry shop, and students are taking classes at the same time, so [people of any age] can interact and learn from the community and the community learns from us.”
Ganugi also elaborates on the importance of integration into a new place and culture, especially given the challenges of constant traveling among students. She hopes to set that precedent through the community services offered by Apicius and FUA-AUF as a whole.
Listen to the full interview here.