Press Releases

Culinary Students from The Art Institutes System of Schools Compete in Italy to Win Urbani Tartufi Truffle Contest

By: Mattias Grundberg

May 19, 2016

Fourteen students invited to prestigious 2-week training in Italy, Scholarships awarded

[Pittsburgh, PA, March 28, 2016] Fourteen culinary artists from The Art Institutes are on their way to Italy to compete in a truffle-themed Culinary Contest in Memory of Paolo Urbani. The contest challenges culinary students from across North America, in teams of two, to create new and original ideas for dishes that feature truffles as their main ingredient.  The truffles are provided exclusively and directly by Urbani Tartufi. 

The contest reflects the continuing commitment by Urbani Tartufi truffles to bring awareness to the culture of truffle and its ancient history. Urbani Tartufi is respected worldwide for representing the best in truffle sourcing and processing. Through this culinary competition, young chefs are provided the opportunity to develop and improve their professional skills while achieving sensory and emotional enrichment.  

To reach the competition finals, 50 teams of students created two dishes—a “chef’s choice” (savory or sweet) and a main course. Recipes and photos of the finished dishes were submitted for consideration and judged based on principles of originality, creativity, and innovation. Each submission was scored on a 100-point scale. Of the 50 teams admitted to the contest, seven teams were chosen as finalists.

The seven finalist teams were awarded scholarships by the Paolo Urbani Foundation to participate in a two-week, full immersion culinary course on Italian Cuisine at UDS (Università dei Sapori), in Perugia, Italy from March 30 – April 8. There, they’ll recreate their truffle-inspired recipes, which will be judged by a jury of chefs and professionals from the world of gastronomy. Three winning teams will be awarded first, second, and third prize. Additionally, Urbani Tartufi reserves the right to market the first place creation as one of its own, new products.  

“Traveling to Italy and cooking with Urbani Tartufi truffle—one of the world’s most sought-after culinary delicacies—is an exciting opportunity for our culinary students to build their experience in preparing international cuisine,” said Tim Moscato, Chief Operating Officer, The Art Institutes. 

According to the Paolo Urbani Foundation, the competition is a statement of confidence and investment in the professional future of the students and a means to help them deepen their knowledge of a precious product as well as to continue to pass on the history of Paolo Urbani, his land, and his legacy.

In addition to the scholarship, winners also earn a trip to the “Truffle Experience at Urbani Tartufi,” which consists of an exclusive journey in the world of truffles. The experience begins in Umbria and culminates at the Accademia del Tartufo, the first school on truffles, where professional chefs will hand down their knowledge in the art of cooking truffles.

The students from The At Institutes are all currently working toward culinary degrees. They include:

The Art Institute of California—Hollywood, a campus of Argosy University

Mark Serpas, Associate of Science, Baking & Pastry

Maria Alcantar, Bachelor of Science, Culinary Management

The Art Institute of California—Orange County, a campus of Argosy University

Christopher Heinlein, Bachelor of Science, Hospitality Food & Beverage Management

Timothy San Pedro, Associate of Science, Culinary Arts

The Art Institute of Pittsburgh

Rachel Walton, Associate of Science, Baking & Pastry

Samantha Santti, Associate of Science, Baking & Pastry

The Art Institute of Tampa, a branch of Miami International University of Art & Design

Devin Davis, Bachelor of Arts, Culinary Management

Kirsten Mathers, Associate of Arts, Culinary Arts

The Art Institute of Tennessee—Nashville, a branch of The Art Institute of Atlanta

Chris Greer, Associate of Arts, Culinary Arts

Rebekah Leatherwood, Bachelor of Science, Culinary Arts Management

The Art Institute of Vancouver

Pavlik Ricalde, Culinary Arts Diploma

Bailey Allan, Culinary Arts & Restaurant Ownership Advanced Diploma

The Art Institute of Virginia Beach, a branch of The Art Institute of Atlanta

Andrea Stevens, Bachelor of Science, Culinary Arts Management

JoVonia Newby, Bachelor of Science, Culinary Arts Management

See aiprograms.info for program duration, tuition, fees and other costs, median debt, salary data, alumni success, and other important info.


By: Mattias Grundberg

May 19, 2016