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Savannah Tech, France exchange program promises sweet experience

  • Students, instructors and special guests taking part in the pastry and baking arts culinary exchange between Savannah Technical College’s Culinary Institute and the Academy of Toulouse in France gathered for lunch Monday. (Photo by Stephen Morton for STC)
  • French culinary arts student Clara Loussikian, left, is looking forward to learning new pastry and baking arts techniques from Savannah Technical College student Hailey Maurer, who spent time at Clara’s school in France last fall. (Photo by Mary Carr Mayle/Savannah Morning News)

Last fall, five students from Savannah Technical College’s award-winning Culinary Institute traveled to France to study and work at the Academy of Toulouse. On Monday, the partnership came full circle when STC welcomed a group from Toulouse to Savannah.

The visit is the fruit of a blossoming relationship that has transformed into a first-of-its-kind exchange program between a French and American technical school.

Just as their American counterparts did last year in France, students and instructors from Tarbes in Southwestern France will train in baking and pastry arts.

Along with the opportunity to work with the Culinary Institute’s Chef Jean Vendeville, the French students and chefs will take English as a Second Language to help enhance their experience here.

The college welcomed the four French students, their instructors and dignitaries at a catered luncheon in the Eckburg Auditorium Monday.

“This partnership continues Savannah Technical College’s exceptional training for Baking and Pastry arts students,” said STC president Kathy Love. “Chef Vendeville, his staff and students have planned a unique immersion experience for our new students from France.”

Louis de Corail, Consul-General of France for the Southeast United States, traveled from Atlanta for the luncheon. He told the group he was pleased to learn of the synergy that has developed between the two culinary groups.

“I look forward to following the growth and development of this exchange program in the years to come, and I wish everyone involved the very best success.”

Vendeville, STC department chair for culinary arts and baking and pastry arts and the American Culinary Federation’s 2014 Chef Educator of the Year, said he is looking forward to working with the French students.

“Our students had such wonderful success when they studied in France last year,” he said. “We hope to provide an equally enriching and successful program during their four weeks here.”

Vendeville, who credited support from Savannah Tech and the college’s foundation with helping to make the exchange program possible, said the venture had become more than just a partnership.

“It has become a friendship.”

Hailey Maurer, one of the five STC students who studied in France last year, agreed.

“While we were in France, we had the pleasure of meeting and working with both the amazing students and their passionate instructors,” she said.

“Together we forged not just a partnership between our two schools, but also a life-long friendship with their students. They made our experience unforgettable - the best experience of my life,” she said.

“I can only hope to return the kindness, knowledge and passion they showed us.”

Academy of Toulouse student Charline Goutoule said she is excited to study in Savannah.

“This is an opportunity to learn another lifestyle and customs, because Americans work differently compared to French,” Goutoule said. “Savannah Technical College’s faculty and students know things that we don’t.”

Toulouse student Clara Loussikian agreed.

“I’m excited to learn new techniques and to understand how French and American pastries differ,” she said. “It’s going to be a great experience.”

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ABOUT THE CULINARY INSTITUTE

Under the direction of the American Culinary Federation’s 2014 Chef Educator of the Year Jean Vendeville, Savannah Technical College offers associate degrees in Culinary Arts, along with Baking and Pastry Arts. The Culinary Institute of Savannah has earned distinction as one of the top four culinary programs in the country according to the American Culinary Federation.

ON THE WEB

For more information about STC Culinary Arts go to www.facebook.com/ChefJeanVendeville.

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