June 26, 2014

There's no better place to learn about Italian food than the country of origin.Chef and restaurateur David Bull, owner of the highly acclaimed Congress Restaurant in Austin will be co-hosting a wine and food tour around the Tuscany region of Italy. Bull was approached about teaming up to lead the tour by his friend and colleague Monica Paredes, who he met while she was enrolled in an Austin culinary arts program at the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts. Paredes is well traveled in the Tuscany region and is also fluent in the Italian language. Before becoming a professional chef, she helped plan trips for Fortune 500 companies, making her an ideal person to plan this gastronomic vacation. Bull expresses that there has always been an Italian influence in his cooking because of his family heritage, and that he has wanted to visit the country of his ancestors for some time. The chef is graced with the fortuitous opportunity of exploring the land and cuisine of his Italian forefathers while also benefiting from a cohort that knows how to get around the area.

The Tuscany culinary tour
The tour takes place over six days and five nights from July 7-12. Bull will be spending much of his days leading interactive cooking classes and providing gastronomic insight to those on the trip. Participants on the tour will have the unique privilege of learning about Italian cuisine from a renowned chef in the native region from which the food came. Moreover, the group is staying in a hilltop boutique winery in Chianti rather than a hotel. The vineyard is operational and the owners are expected to be on site to answer questions. This will allow students to experience food in a farm-to-table setting unlike any other.

Bull plans to visit local markets in the region to find the freshest ingredients to use when teaching the class, making it a gastronomic exercise he calls “hyper regional”. One of the highlights of the trip is a scheduled meeting with the most famous butcher in Tuscany. Other events include a guided art and culinary tour, day trips to the neighboring cities of Florence and Siena, and group trips to local markets to purchase produce for the cooking classes.

In the time leading up to the trip, participants are benefited by mini lessons in wine and food from the region, and even classes in Italian to help them speak the language abroad.