Bend Belluno Sister Cities Cultural Exchange

BEN ARRIVATA                   DI                       EVENTI                       SCAMBI                   METTE IN EVIDENZA              CONTATTO

Culinary Cultural Exchange Sends Two to Italy
By Alison Highberger / For The Bulletin
Published Nov 24, 2015 at 12:01AM
Updated Nov 24, 2015 at 05:54AM

Chef and Student from Bend School Head to Italy.

Italophiles and foodies, prepare to be envious. A

teacher and student from Central Oregon Community

College’s Cascade Culinary Institute will spend a

month in Italy this winter, immersed in Italian culture and focused on the local food traditions.  Chef Instructor David Trask and culinary student Melissa Acord will be in Bend’s sister city of Belluno, Italy, from Jan. 7 to Feb. 7.

They’ll be based in Falcade, which is in the province of Belluno. It’s a municipality of about 2,100 residents, 70 miles northwest of Venice, in the Dolomite Mountains of northern Italy. Belluno is similar to Bend, sitting at an altitude of 3,730 feet.  Trask and Acord will be at the Scuola Alberghiera — which translates to catering college — where Trask will teach cooking techniques and inform students about food trends in the Pacific Northwest and U.S.  He’ll teach in English while Acord attends classes and interns at a local restaurant.  They will soak in everything they can about Italian food, culture and home cooking. It’s a first trip to Europe for both teacher and student.

Their goals include exploring the regional cuisines of Italy, experiencing the Italian appreciation of food as a way of life, preparing a traditional meal with a family in their home and participating in the interrelatedness of Italian food in the culture — seeing how the food, art and music scenes tie together.

Trask, 47, who has been teaching international cooking classes at CCI for the past three years, lived in St. Croix with his family for 10 years before that, running a Tex-Mex barbecue restaurant called Good Spirits.  “I think it’s going to be fantastic. I’m looking forward to the food. I’m looking forward to the markets, what their students are like, what their school is like and finding out the cultural differences as well as the similarities we share,” Trask said.

Acord, 27, is a married mother of three sons who went through a lengthy application and interview process to be selected for this once-in-a-lifetime educational experience. Her husband, Skyler, an Army veteran, and her mother-in-law will take care of everything at home while she’s 5,563 miles away.

“I have total support from my family for this. I’ve been able to show my kids that no matter what life throws at you, if you work hard and have something you really want, and you’re determined, it can come true,” Acord said.  

This international cultural exchange is the first of what the Cascade Culinary Institute hopes will be many such trips.Truly an exchange with the Italians, Trask and Acord will return to Bend in February, accompanied by an instructor and culinary student from the Belluno school, who will then spend a month at Cascade Culinary Institute to teach, learn and immerse themselves in the culture of Central Oregon.

The exchange was the idea of Bend’s Laura Becker, a member of CCI’s Culinary Ambassadors. The group has worked on this project with CCI’s assistant program director, chef Julian Darwin, for the past year to put it all together.  Becker, a German teacher in Michigan schools for 37 years, told us she loved taking students on trips to Europe.

" Any time you can connect students in a real-life learning scenario in another place in the world, or anywhere within the United States, is exciting.  It has meaning, and that's what's drivien me to set this program up.  It's a great learning adventure for both CCI and the school in Italy", Becker said.

Meanwhile, Trask said he’s working on his Italian and wondering how to get his chef knife kit on an airplane and over to Italy. “I think we’re going to have to mail some of that equipment ahead. Traveling on planes, trains and automobiles with a chef knife kit is not going to work,” Trask said with a laugh.  He’s looking forward to demonstrating classic American foods like fried chicken and barbecue for his Italian students. Because he’s not sure what kinds of ingredients he’ll find in Italian markets, he and Acord will shop at Savory Spice Shop in Bend before they go.

“Since I’ll probably talk about the differences between Kansas City, Memphis and Texas barbecue, we’ll go to Savory Spice to get some chili powders and ingredients and then see what the similarities and differences are between the two cooking cultures,” Trask said.

Trask will travel in Europe with his wife and sons before his monthlong adventure in Italy begins, and then, when he gets back home, he hopes to help expand CCI’s international culinary class offerings.

“We’ve done Cuisine of the Caribbean, Global Street Food, and Classic French Cuisine. We hope to put together an Italian class when we come back,” Trask said. “We’re sure it will be delizioso, too.”

Elevations Fund Raiser