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Olive Garden plants roots, culinary school Tuscany

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When we think about Olive garden a traditional Tuscan cuisine consists of unlimited soup, salad and breadsticks come into our mind. Olive Garden is an American casual dining restaurant chain It is a subsidiary of Darden Restaurants, Inc., which is headquartered in unincorporated Orange County, Florida, near Orlando.specializing in Italian-American cuisine. Olive Garden serves several types of Italian-American cuisine including pasta dishes, steaks, salads and fresh soups.

Olive Garden started as a unit of General Mills Inc. The first Olive Garden was opened on December 13, 1982, in Orlando. By 1989, there were 145 Olive Garden restaurants, making it the fastest-growing units in the General Mills restaurant division. [1] As of January 11, 2016, Olive Garden operates 844 locations globally and accounts for $3.8 billion of the $6.9 billion revenue of parent Darden. General Mills spun off its restaurant holdings as Darden Restaurants (named for Red Lobster founder Bill Darden), a stand-alone company, in 1995. The company eventually became the largest chain of Italian-themed full-service restaurants in the United States.

In 2010, Olive Garden generated $3.3 billion in sales. Its closest competitor, Carrabba's Italian Grill, had generated $650.5 million in sales during the same year. Olive Garden became one of the first national restaurant chains to test converting most of its staff to part-time, aiming to limit the cost of paying for health care benefits for full-time employees.

Olive Garden's original slogan was "Good Times, Great Salad, Olive Garden". This was used while their main advertising focus was unlimited salad. When soup and bread sticks were added onto the unlimited menu item, the slogan was changed to "When you're here, you're family". The new company slogan started in early 2013 is "We're all family here".

In the fall of 2013, Olive Garden started a promotion for the "Never Ending Pasta Bowl", where customers can eat all the pasta they want for $9.99.

the company operates 818 restaurants globally. There are six locations in Canada, which are Winnipeg, Manitoba (two); Calgary, Alberta; Edmonton, Alberta (two); and Langley, British Columbia near Vancouver. In the 1990s, there had been at various times between 10 and 15 locations in Ontario, but they were all closed in the early 2000s. In late 2012, two restaurants were opened in Mexico City: Kuwait. Lima, Peru, Brazil, Mid Valley Megamall and in Malaysia,Guayaquil. Newer restaurants are styled after a farmhouse in the town of Castellina in Chianti, Tuscany, In 1999 company founded Culinary Institute of Tuscany.

It was said, company is putting its money where its intentions are, Olive Garden is deepening its commitment to authentic Italian cuisine and service by establishing a culinary training school and a signature restaurant in this restored medieval settlement in Tuscany.
In a joint venture with one of the chain's major wine suppliers, the prominent Chianti vintner Rocca delle Macie, Olive Garden has opened a training compound for its front- and back-of-the-house staff to become immersed in all facets of Italian food, cooking traditions, wine service and hospitality.
According to Brad Blum, president of the Darden Restaurants Inc.-owned chain, the objective of the foreign venture is far-reaching. He said he hoped customers in the United States would begin to see the 464-unit Olive Garden less as urban trattorias and more as an assemblage of Tuscan-style farmhouses, steeped in family-style service and with a keen appreciation for wine.
At a New York press conference at the chain's flagship location in Times Square a few days after his return from Italy, Blum detailed his ambitions. He called the school-and-restaurant development in Tuscany "an extension of our strategy that we are really passionate about providing a great experience for every guest who visits, by providing a genuine Italian dining experience.
In spite of Olive Garden's advertising that it has a cooking institute in Tuscany, news outlets have reported that, in fact, there is no institute or school. Olive Garden does send a number of managers, trainers, and cooks to Tuscany each year, but they stay in a rented hotel and spend only a few hours at a local restaurant in its off-season

An anonymous poster on Reddit claims that she has been a manager for the popular Italian restaurant chain, and that the ”cooking school'” She said that there is no Olive Garden culinary institute:

"I was a manager at Olive Garden and was sent to their culinary institute in Tuscany back in 2007. It was more like a hotel, during the off-season, with restaurant on site. They would let the Olive Garden come and stay in all the rooms (small place-maybe 20 rooms) and they would use the restaurant (closed to the public-again off season) as a classroom for maybe an hour here or there and talk about spices or fresh produce for a minute before going site seeing all day. The only time we saw the "chef" was when she made a Bolognese sauce while taking pictures with each of us to send to our local newspapers. Basically, yes, they send people to Italy every year. As a manager, I still got paid my salary and didn't have to use vacation time, it counted as "work." They paid for everything from meals, sightseeing, flight, everything except souvenirs. But in return, they sent pre-written articles to out local newspaper with fake quotes from me and a group photo. Also, every year when they would run the promotion, I was supposed to wear a special "chef" coat and make conversation with guests who ordered the promotional meals."

She writes that Olive Garden does not own the place and that, when she went there in 2007, they just booked the whole rustic hotel for the Olive Garden management and chefs. The visitors “could use the restaurant (closed to the public-again off season) as a classroom for maybe an hour here or there and talk about spices or fresh produce for a minute before going sightseeing all day,” she wrote. “The only time we saw the ‘chef” was when she made a Bolognese sauce while taking pictures with each of us to send to our local newspapers.”
A spokesperson for the hotel confirmed that there’s an agreement in place between them and Olive Garden. Olive Garden sends about a dozen people each week in the off-season between November and March. Their chef spends some time with them in the kitchen, but there’s no school and the restaurant does not own anything there. The house and the restaurant belong, in fact, to a local wine label.
Perhaps the institute isn’t an intense cooking academy. But even Olive Garden’s web site points out that the managers who travel to the institute take time to visit a winery and a fresh food market, as well as partake in some delicious Italian eats. And a free trip to Italy is certainly a great incentive program for Olive Garden managers, who we’re sure pick up some tips on authentic Italian ambiance while they relax in Italy.

The impact on Olive Garden's business will likely be negligible. Why? Because Olive Garden's guests fall roughly into two groups: those who don't know or care about Tuscan cuisine, and those who know better than to rely on Olive Garden as a purveyor of authentic Tuscan food.
Now that's irony: an accusation revolving around an inauthentic claim at authenticity which is rendered irrelevant by customers who didn't expect authenticity to begin with.
i If you thought unlimited soup, salad and breadsticks was authentic Italian cuisine, then maybe it’s time to step out of your culinary comfort zone and think of that traditional Tuscan cuisine really consists of unlimited soup, salad and breadsticks.

But don’t you feel breadsticks are delicious...? We Love to eat…!


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