Highlight on Sodexo’s Global Chef Program: Chef Francisco shares his ‘molto buona cucina italiana’

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By Jordana Kozupsky

Today and tomorrow, Union will be hosting Francesco Loiacono, an Italian chef touring the Northeast with Sodexo, the food service utilized by Union College Dining Services.

On these two days, Francesco and the college chefs will serve tiramisu, osso bucco and risotto in Upperclass Dining.

The Global Chef Program is one of Sodexo’s newest initiatives to bring foreign food to college campuses. The program enlists 41 chefs, each representing their home countries, who travel on a month-long tour to several universities across America.Francesco has presented at UMass Boston, Keene State and UVM, amongst others. After Union, he will travel to RPI and Ithaca.

According to Sodexo, this program was initiated in 2003 to “increase clients’ satisfaction and bring a fresh and distinctive experience to dining.”

By facilitating the exchange of foreign chefs all over America, Sodexo hopes to share authentic recipes and cooking techniques with our own cooks.

Francesco was born and raised in Sicily. He started working in kitchens when he was 14 years old, and after graduating from culinary school, worked with several hotels and taught cooking for seven years. Now, Francesco works for Sodexo with the Global Chef Program and permanently resides in Milan, Italy.

Describing his dishes as “simple but rich in flavor tastes,” Francesco attributes much of his inspiration to growing up in close proximity to the Mediterranean Sea.

He says that he loves cooking and “trying new flavors” and hopes that many Union students will experience these flavors.

Director of Operations at Dining Services Callie Stacey explains that Union chose a chef whose cooking would fit best with students’ meal preferences.

Last year, Union hosted French chef Patrick Masson, whose coq au vin and warm lentil salad still appears on Upperclass and West dining halls’ menus.

Students “loved it,” Stacey said. She expects the same attitude towards Chef Francesco’s cuisine this week.

“It’s a great program to be able to expose both our staff and students to different cultures,” she said.

She expects that if the dishes are well-liked by the student body, they too will earn a spot in the dining halls’ menus.

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