Is There Really an Olive Garden Cooking School in Tuscany?
It's one of the great mysteries of life, whether or not Olive Garden actually has the Tuscan cooking school they claim to in their commercials, and our own curiosity lead us to seek out the information to prove whether or not it exists. Forget what you've read next to the menu description for the chicken fettucini alfredo and prepare for a shock:
The Olive Garden Culinary institute does exist in Italy...kind of.
It is indeed a group of beautiful rustic buildings (even a pool!) in the region of Tuscany, close to Siena, and it does indeed host Olive Garden cooks, managers, and waiters from their chain restaurants every so often, but it's not a full-time Olive Garden cooking school.
So what is it? Find out after the jump!
What we know as the Olive Garden cooking school is actually the Tuscan Culinary Institute, which was established by Olive Garden, but they only use it several times a year, mainly in the winter, when they bring in their groups for training and menu development. The site, called Riserva di Fizzano includes Rocca delle Macie winery, a guesthouse, a pool, and a restaurant. You can actually visit and take cooking classes there, and nightly rates for the smallest apartment begin at 100 Euro.
It seems like the ideal location for living out your Under the Tuscan Sun fantasies, if only Olive Garden didn't evoke memories of unlimited soup and breadstick lunches with your grandma's church group. It's now on our bucket list, since we will only truly believe that it exists as the commercials claim by visiting there ourselves.
· Culinary Institute of Tuscany History [Olive Garden]
· Olive Garden and Don Francisco Go to Tuscany [Ad Age]
· Riserva di Fizzano (PDF) [Official Info]
· Food Travel [Jaunted]
[Photos: found on Olive Garden's website]