David Garcia-Reyes’ plans to become an international chef came a step closer this summer when he received a $3,000 scholarship allowing him to study this summer with Italian chefs through an internship with Anne Arundel Community College.
Francesco Luigi Legaluppi, Ph.D., consul of Italy in Baltimore and chairman of the board at the Italian Cultural Center Inc. in Baltimore, donated the money on behalf of the cultural center.
"There is no better way to promote Italian culture than through a program that takes people -- who may not even be of Italian origin, as in this case -- to Italy to learn what we consider more an art form than a special skill. When they return to Maryland, they will bring with them a unique Italian experience that benefits local restaurants and those of us who frequent them," Dr. Legaluppi said. "To contribute to this kind of practical international learning and sharing is an important facet of our mission at the Cultural Center."
Garcia-Reyes is a culinary arts student at AACC’s Hospitality, Culinary Arts and Tourism Institute. Consul Legaluppi saw a presentation about HCAT’s culinary internship in Italy and wanted to support the program promoting international exchange students.
For Garcia-Reyes, who came to the United States from Mexico 14 years ago, the scholarship means a chance to do something he’s only dreamed about.
"To be a better cook, it should be a requirement to learn from international chefs," Garcia-Reyes said. While as a line cook at Chevy Chase Country Club and at other previous jobs, he has worked with chefs of other nationalities. He thinks it will be an even better experience to work with chefs from Italy in their home country.
"Actually cooking in Italy -- I’ve heard they have very fresh everything, especially fresh fish, brought right into the kitchen. It will be all different techniques," he said. "Italians have different recipes for the same thing, depending on where they are from, and Italians really love their foods."
The HCAT culinary internship on the Amalfi Coast of Italy is a 10-week immersion in Italian life and cuisine. Students train at some of the world’s most renowned resorts and hotels. The work schedule is demanding, possibly six days a week, 10 to 12 hours a day. They are housed at the worksite or in a local apartment near work, usually sharing a room. This year, students are in Italy May 15-July 31.
"We are the only community college in the nation offering an Italian internship at the top leading resorts of the world," said Mary Ellen Mason, interim HCAT Institute director.
To be eligible, students must be registered in a degree or certificate option in HCAT’s hotel/restaurant management program, have completed "Introduction to Food Preparation" (HRM 121) with at least a B, have received industry and instructor recommendations, have completed an Italian language course and have a medical clearance. Students can participate in the HCAT Italian internship only one time.
This year, six students met the criteria and were able to go: Garcia-Reyes, Evan Lavin of Reisterstown, Masood Masoodi of Baltimore, Preston Metcalfe of Annapolis, Tossiri Parker of Glen Burnie and Will Young of Bowie.
For information about HCAT programs, call 410-777-2398.