Alma’s best alumni, part two

Colorno is not just the birthplace of excellent chefs, but of pastry chefs, waiters, managers... Here’s a second list of their most successful alumni

see part one

Gabriele Rubini, alias Chef Rubio
Class of 2010, TV chef
Today everyone knows him (and recognises him) as Chef Rubio. But before becoming one of the most irreverent people on TV, the protagonist of shows like “Unti e Bisunti” and “Camionisti in trattoria”, just to name two of his very popular shows, as well as “I re della griglia” and “Rubio alla ricerca del gusto perduto”, this chef born in 1983 was also a rugby player. This sport led him as far as New Zealand where to pay his bills he started working in a restaurant. That’s where he fell in love with cooking. After that, he enrolled at Alma (in 2008), where two years later he graduated as Chef internazionale di cucina italiana.

Fabiana Scarica
Class of 2011, Top Chef in 2017, Villa Chiara-Orto & Cucina
Born in 1988, after graduating from Alma in 2011, she arrived in the kitchen of Gennaro Esposito’s Torre del Saracino in Marina di Seiano, Campania, where she spent two years under the guidance of Fumiko Sakai taking care of starters, then at Stefano Mazzone’s Quisisana in Capri, where she refined her pastry making techniques, Don Alfonso 1890 in Sant'Agata sui Due Golfi where she took care of first courses, plus Terrazza Bosquet inside the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria in Sorrento. In 2013 she was “Best emerging chef in the South”. In 2015, with chef Arturo Scarfato she opened Villa Chiara-Orto & Cucinain Vico Equense. In 2016 Identità Golose awarded her with the “Vent'anni” award.  In 2017 she won the “Top Chef Italia” award.

Mattia Poggi
Class of 2005, Editorial director at Alice TV
Born in Genoa in 1984, Poggi started to study foreign languages at university, when AliceGambero Rosso and the first TV shows dedicated to cooking appeared on Tele +. Television led him to attend ALMA where he graduated in 2005.  His debut in the kitchen? Under the guidance of young chef Fabio Fauraz. Since 2008 he’s the protagonist of popular TV shows such as “Mattia, detto fatto!”, “Mattia and friends”, “Indovina chi viene a cena” broadcasted on digital and satellite channels Arturo and Alice. He runs the monthly column Alice Cucina and has published with LT Editore, two books “Il buffet detto fatto” (2010) and “La pasta detto fatto” (2011). Since 2018 he’s the editorial director at Alice TV.

Henry Hsieh
Joint Program Alma 2010 Diploma, head of operations at Longtail, Taipei, Taiwan (1 stella Michelin)
For Henry Hsieh 2010 was definitely an important year. That’s when he graduated from the Joint Program Alma-ICC (International Culinary Center) in New York, one of the “tailor made” courses designed with one of the 20 partner cooking schools around the world, with which Alma has developed important collaborations. Students attend the first part of the course in their country of origin. For the second part they move to Colorno to attend their classes (between 3 weeks and 5 months), followed by an internship (2 to 9 months) in prestigious Italian restaurants where they can apply what they’ve just learnt. Hsieh is now head of operations of two restaurants in Taipei: Longtail (one Michelin star in 2018) and Wildwood.

Federica Russo
Graduate in Pastry Making in 2015, lab manager at Fabrizio Galla, San Sebastiano da Po, Torino
Born in 1994 in Acqui Terme, but half Sicilian, she attended the local catering school for three years and then completed her studies in Finale Ligure, well aware that she wanted to become a pastry-chef. So then she first enrolled in the Corso Base and then in the 20th Corso Superiore di Pasticceria at ALMA. After graduating, she started working in Fabrizio Galla’s lab (1st place in the Best Chocolate Cake in the World in Lyon 2007), where she’s now the manager. That same year, 2018, she won the “À la folie” competition organised by Delifrance and received the Best Female Pastry Chef award during the World Pastry Stars conference.

Francesco Cavaleri
Dining room, bar and sommellerie Diploma, NomaCopenhagen, Denmark (2 Michelin stars)
From the seaside osterias and the restaurants of his homeland, Romagna, with a diploma in catering school, to Zurich for 4 years, where he learnt a different style of service and hospitality from that of the Riviera Romagnola. In Spain, a new beginning first as chef de rang at Bar Brutal, then as dining room manager and wine assistant at restaurant Xemei. The need for a high-quality technical training led him to the 8th Corso superiore di sala, bar e sommellerie at Alma, during which he did an internship at two-starred Agli Amici with Emanuele Scarello in Udine. He’s now in the dining room staff at René Redzepi’s Noma,for four times at the top of The World's 50 Best Restaurants.

Eliana Godinez
Diploma in Panificazione moderna, bakery chef Quintonil, Mexico City 
Sometimes they come back! After attending the Corso Superiore di Cucina Italiana, Eliana Godinez, from Mexico returned to Italy to attend the first edition of the breadmaking Corso di Panificazione moderna, launched by ALMA in 2017: a 5-month training, what with the classes at the Reggia di Colorno and the internship in Milan, at “L’Atelier du Pain” with Andrea Cirolla as her mentor. She was top of her class and won a trip to Lille at Lesaffre’s Bakery Centre. Once back home, she found a job at “Quintonil”, in Mexico City, now 24th in “The World's 50 Best Restaurants”.

Tommy Monari
Master Alma-Ais, brand ambassador Maison Bruno Paillard, Reims, France
A graduate in Business, Monari started to nourish his passion for wine in 2014 when he attended the course at AIS(Associazione Italiana Sommelier). Since 2016 he’s a sommelier and first worked as dining room director at Rino Duca’s Il Grano di Pepe, then in the marketing department of Tenuta Stella, a winery in Collio. Monari attended the 9th edition of the Alma-Ais master to get a specific training in wine communication and management. Originally from Trieste, after 9 months of course including the internship at Enoteca Pinchiorri, he passed the final exam with an unprecedented vote of 100/100 and became the brand ambassador of a prestigious Maison de Champagne – a dream come true.

Giovanni Biaggini
Restaurant Manager Diploma, general manager Dry Milano
A surveyor diploma from the Vincenzo Cardarelli school in La Spezia, a past as a professional sportsman and a career in real estate and hospitality urged Biaggini nonetheless to take on this training to acquire new working tools. So he chose the first edition of the Restaurant Manager Course (2011). This was followed by two years as food & beverage assistant at the Golden Palace in Torino, as well as 4 years as restaurant manager and business development manager for Three Bond Wine & Dine. Since May 2018 he’s the general manager at Dry Milano, awarded among the best pizzerias in Italy (91/100, the highest point in Milan) from Gambero Rosso’s Guida Pizzerie d’Italia 2020.

2. The end

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


Reviews, recommendations and trends from Italy, signed by all the authors of Identità Golose

Errica Tamani


Errica Tamani

Author of Gli anni d'oro della cucina parmigiana, published by Accademia Italiana della Cucina, she contributes to “Gusto”, the food page of Gazzetta di Parma

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