Skip to main content

Che Buono!


Culinary Institute of Charleston (CIC) student Sharon Ramirez had already been to Italy several times when she traveled there last month for a unique study abroad opportunity.

She said it was a completely different experience, one that she would never have gotten otherwise.

Twenty students and three faculty members completed a three-week, four-region culinary tour of Italy, learning about its food, wine, culture and history. 

“We had an inside view of some of the most renowned, small production, family-owned businesses in Italy,” she said, “There were none of those touristy gift shops at the end of these tours.”

The students trained in Italian cooking schools and toured numerous facilities, including an olive farm, artesian rice field, Parma’s amazing Prosciutto di Parma hams, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, Modena’s Aceto Balsamico, Illy Caffe coffee roasters and café tour, and Prosecco and Piedmont vineyards.

They visited some of Rome’s top sites including Vatican City, the Colosseum and the Pantheon. They walked the streets of Venice and Trieste and explored the Cinque Terre (Italian Riviera) by foot and boat.

“We tasted, cooked and toured our way through Italy,” she said, “We made pasta, gnocchi, bread, sauces, espresso and so much more.”

Ramirez decided to follow her culinary passion at the age of 50, when she heard Trident Technical College was offering free tuition. She had been retired from a business that she sold and had been traveling the world when the pandemic hit.

“I was going stir-crazy, not being able to travel,” she said, “I’ve always loved food and cooking, so I decided to enroll.”

Her goal is to become a personal chef so she can provide families with healthy meal options and continue doing what she loves most - traveling.

“There is a demand for at-home chefs because people are busy and also want healthier options,” she said. “In restaurants, chefs tend to use more butter, cheese and salt to make their dishes stand out.”

Ramirez appreciated seeing the experience through the eyes of her classmates, many of whom had never been out of the country.

“Having the opportunity to see so much of the world has had a very transformative effect on me,” she said, “Watching my classmates’ eyes light up when they saw the rows and rows of cheese stacked up to the ceiling at Parmigiano Reggiano, I knew it would have a similar effect on them.”

In 2018, the Study Abroad Opportunities Fund and the Experiential Learning Endowed Fund were established with the TTC Foundation by David P. Beddow and his sister, Suzanne Wallace. Each year these funds assist CIC students in need with this study abroad experience, making it possible for more students to take advantage of the opportunity. 

“Since the fund was established, more than 60 CIC students have been given opportunities to travel and experience a variety of cultures and cuisines,” said Nathan Rex, Dean of the Culinary Institute of Charleston at TTC, “These trips have the potential to change the entire trajectory of one’s life. I’ve witnessed it, and it’s a beautiful thing to see!”

Visit Culinary Institute of Charleston on Facebook to see more photos.

If you believe in the power of travel to provide life changing experiences and would like to support future CIC trips, you may make a gift here.