Sorry to burst your bubble, Olive Garden fans, but that "cooking school" in Tuscany, the one where the chain's chefs supposedly go to learn the secrets of Italian cuisine from the source? It's pretty much a sham.
This according to a former Olive Garden manager, who's causing a flurry of discussion at Reddit (much of it oddly trading on obscene jokes about breadsticks-you've been warned). The manager, posting as FIDELIA079, claims that he scored a lucky, all-expense-paid (except souvenirs) trip to the chain's Tuscan "culinary institute" in 2007.
It seems the Olive Garden doesn't even own the place. They just book all the rooms at some hotel in the off-season, close the place to the public, and take over the restaurant. Sporadic "classes" lasted "maybe an hour here or there" where they would "talk about spices or fresh produce for a minute" before taking the group site-seeing for the day. Lots of drinking ensued.
If it sounds like just a ploy to allow the ubiquitous strip-mall-Italian chain to claim that its staff is trained in the Old Country-apparently, it is.
"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," the anonymous ex-manager says. "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."
Does this come as much of a surprise? Seriously, if there's anyone out there who thinks then Olive Garden really serves authentic Italian cooking, then boy have we got a trash bag full of authentic Louis Vuitton purses to sell you.
Still, the insights of disgruntled ex-manager FIDELIA079, whoever he is, are pretty entertaining, especially when it comes to what happened to that coveted "special 'chef' coat":
"I sold it at a garage sale to someone who was going to be a Server-Zombie for Halloween. It had my name on it."