Although this shouldn't come as a surprise to many, but anyone expecting to taste the secrets of Tuscany at an Olive Garden should probably avoid the chain.
According to a former manager of a franchise location, Olive Garden's Culinary Institute of Tuscany "located in the heart of Tuscany, Italy in a restored 11th century village" is nothing more than a publicity sham.
The manager claims he scored a lucky, all-expense-paid trip to the chain's Tuscan "culinary institute" (supposedly pictured above) in 2007, but spent more time boozing and touring the country than doing any actual cooking.
A "culinary institute" suggests there is some kind of campus or school, however, the manager reveals it is simple a hotel that the company books in the off-season, while using its restaurant for sporadic "classes" that lasted "maybe an hour here or there" where they would "talk about spices or fresh produce for a minute".
Sounds VERY prestigious.
While spilling his guts on an online messaging board under the name FIDELIA079, the anonymous manager continued to write:
"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. They sent pre-written articles to our 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."
We doubt this news will ward off too many customers who go for the modest prices, as well as the endless soup, salad, and breadsticks.
However, maybe it's time for the restaurant to stop pretending their "authentic Italian" recipes are from the "heart of Tuscany" and start acknowledging they're from a corporate instructional manual.
[Image via Olive Garden Images.]