Thursday, September 2, 2010

RMU instructor awarded 3rd annual Chefs of Tomorrow grant

Laurette Stefani, chef-instructor at Robert Morris University's Institute of Culinary Arts, was selected to receive a $1,500 grant from Olson Communications' Chefs of Tomorrow initiative. The third annual grant was given in honor of the grant program's 20th anniversary.

(l to r) Rachel Tracy, Olson Communications; Chefs of Tomorrow grant recipient Laurette Stefani; and Sharon Olson, Olson Communications

Stefani used the grant to help fund an educational immersion trip through the Northern California's Bay Area and Napa Valley. For more than a week in August, Stefani biked through Healdsburg's boutique olive estates, wineries and chicken co-ops, and toured Hog Island Oyster Co. in Tomales Bay. She sampled freshly made salumi at chef Paul Bertolli's Fra' Mani in Berkeley; participated in a tea ceremony at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center on Muir Beach; tasted goat's-milk cheese, yogurt and kefir at Redwood Hill Farm in Sonoma Valley; and shopped for produce at Ferry Building Marketplace in San Francisco.

"My grandparents exposed me to the sweet taste of freshly picked basil from the garden, the waft of homemade bread being baked in the oven, and the communal event of making ravioli at the kitchen table," Stefani said in a statement. "Since I became an instructor at Robert Morris University, I learned that many of our students did not have the same opportunities I did. Processed cheese supplied their lunches, while dinners came from a microwavable carton. There is no connection to the food, and no respect for its origin or maker. As an educator, I want to teach them that there is more to cooking than what you can prepare out of a box."

Chicago-based Olson Communications founded Chefs of Tomorrow in 2008 to fund grants to high school and postsecondary culinary educators.

Check back on Online Tool Kit later this month for Laurette Stefani's journal of her educational immersion in Northern California.