Staff & Instructors

Cook the Farm Winter Session is led by Fabrizia Lanza and Program Director Henna Garrison with the help of Anna Tasca Lanza staff and involves an ever-changing group of guest presenters coming from around Europe.


Fabrizia Lanza is the creator and visionary behind Cook the Farm. Her personal curiosity to explore the world of food beyond the kitchen pushed her to create the Cook the Farm experiential learning model. Fabrizia drives the content of each year’s Cook the Farm and shares her personal knowledge and experience with students throughout the course.

Henna Garrison is the Anna Tasca Lanza Program Director and Cook the Farm’s organizer and facilitator. With a Master’s degree from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Food Culture and Communication, she has always been fascinated by how food is perceived and expressed. Henna follows all participants from the first application into their lives as alumni, and facilitates and leads many Cook the Farm activites.

Giuseppe Russo

The Economy + Nutrition of Wheat

CTF 2020

After graduating in Biology at the University of Palermo, I began to collaborate with various institutions and companies trying to figure out what would be the best path for me. My first important collaborations were more in  the environmental sciences investigating living species such as sea turtles and dolphins in the Mediterranean, a small native toad to Sicily, and infectious diseases through rodents. I also worked as a medical scientist  in Bergamo  for the Lilly pharmaceutical company but after a few months I realized that it was not the right fit and I returned to Sicily.

In 1998 I started to collaborate with the Research Consortium Gian Pietro Ballatore, a public research body of the Sicilian Region. I still work here today as a Research Biologist researching wheat and working in disseminating information throughout the supply chain. In 2007 I completed post-graduate specialization school in Food Science and in 2010 a research doctorate in Nutrition and Human Nutrition on a project entitled “Enhancement of the Durum Wheat supply chain in Sicily through Investigations on the nutritional characterization of raw materials and derivative products.”

To date I am the author of over 60 scientific publications in national and international journals and conference proceedings.  To date, the activities and research that I undertake concern:

  • The role of durum wheat in nutrition and in the Mediterranean diet
  • Investigations on the varieties of local conservation grains (in collaboration with the University of Tuscia of Viterbo);
  • The study of wheat sensitivity (in collaboration with the "Celiac disease and related gluten diseases" clinic of the University of Palermo Hospital)
  • Introduction of the cultivation of single-grain wheat in Sicily

Sarah Wolferston

Olive Oil + Cultural Heritage

CTF 2020

Born in Canada but brought up in the UK, Sarah has been a fan of Italy and its culture for over 20 years since she first visited as an archaeology student. After over a decade building a career in Cultural Heritage in London, in 2015 she applied and was awarded an European Union's Erasmus for Young Entrepreneur (EYE) grant, left her job and moved with her young family to spend 6 months in her husband's home town in central Sicily. The plan: to immerse herself in olive oil culture. On returning to the UK in 2015, Sarah set up Alivu, a Limited Company, to import the family's oil. In 2016 she won a prize for best young Entrepreneur UK for her first year of trading.


This new venture builds on 16 years working in Cultural Heritage, Archaeological Heritage Management, international development and environmental sustainability for international organisations, European agencies and NGOs. Sarah has also taught on Cultural Heritage and Heritage Management MA courses at London's Institute of Archaeology, has been a speaker at international conferences and working groups on archaeology, conservation and heritage, and taken part in a Focus Group on New Entrants to Farming, an EU research programme.


Sarah's  academic background includes a BA Hons degree in Archaeology and Anthropology from Cambridge University (1999) and an MA in Cultural Heritage Studies from University College London (2005). She has published several articles on community experiences of heritage reconstruction in post-conflict Kosovo and the Council of Europe's Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society. This work underlines her interest in the uses of the past in the present.


As well as selling Alivu's EVOO, she is building her reputation as a taster and reviewer of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, acts as a consultant for heritage organisations, and is studying for a qualification in Horticulture. In her spare time she volunteers with a local garden, the town museum, and is also helping to set up a community orchard, not to mention raising a young family.

Paola Migliorini

Farming systems and Agroecology

CTF 2017 | 2018 | 2019

Born in Florence, Italy, she graduated in agricultural science and technology from the University of Florence in 1998. In 2000 she received her Master’s degree in food security from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 2006 she received her Ph.D. (XVIII cycle) in agricultural sustainability from the University of Florence’s Faculty of Agriculture. She has worked as the technical manager of the Tuscan Organic Producers Association, a technical inspector for the BIOS organic certification body and she was a researcher at the Overseas Agronomic Institute dealing with international cooperation and gender analysis, and more recently a research fellow in the Agronomy Department of the University of Florence’s Faculty of Agriculture. She has given numerous lectures on organic farming as part of Master’s degrees and IFTS training courses for technicians and farmers in Italy and abroad (USA, Spain, Germany, Greece, Croatia, Turkey, Romania, Albania). She is the author of 50 technical and scientific publications, which have appeared in international and national journals and conference proceedings and as monographs and book chapters. She is currently an assistant professor at the University of Gastronomic Sciences. Her research includes: Agricultural models, agro-ecosystem studies and the agroecological approach: ecological, sustainable and organic agriculture; Sustainability evaluation with agroecological indicators: soil fertility, biodiversity, energy efficiencies; Organic production systems and effects on products: comparison of different varieties (e.g. old and modern varieties of wheat for organic bread) and comparison of different agronomic techniques on cultivated crop (e.g. organic fertilizers, use of mycorrhizae, mechanical weeding, organic treatments); Long-term experiments comparing organic and conventional agriculture and Peri-urban agriculture

Gea Galluzzi

Wheat: Origin, diversity, uses and sustainable solutions for a healthy future

CTF 2018 | 2020

Gea Galluzzi has been collaborating with the Semi Rurali Network since 2016. Prior to this, she has always dedicated herself to the issues of conservation and sustainable use of agricultural biodiversity, especially abroad. After a doctorate in "Agrobiodiversity" at the Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa, she worked for five years with Bioversity International in Latin America on various research topics, including access to genetic resources and the equitable distribution of benefits, intellectual property and farmers' rights, participatory genetic improvement. She collaborated with the FAO on the same topics, as a designer and program evaluator. She practices agriculture on the Tuscan hills, and is a passionate yoga practitioner.

Her seminar will provide a broad overview of the wheat crop, its origins, domestication and present-day importance, particularly in Italy. A special focus will be placed on the great agrobiodiversity heritage of different wheat species and on the challenges this genetic diversity has faced over time as industrialized agriculture and food systems developed; implications for the nutritional quality of wheat-based foods and for the local development and cultural value of farming communities and territories will also be discussed. Finally, examples of bottom-up experiences involving farmers, food processing artisans, researchers and the general public will be described, which stem from rescue and reintroduction of wheat genetic diversity in farmers’ fields to re-construct healthier, more localized, participated and culturally relevant food systems in local territories.

Nikki Welch

The Science of Taste

CTF 2018 | 2019 | 2020

Nikki Welch is a UK based wine and flavour specialist. The ultimate anti-snob, her wine career started straight out of university and encompassed working with producers and brands from around the world and selling them to UK supermarkets and independents.  Her passion is translating the often geeky world of wine into something more palatable and fun for the everyday drinker, and the combination of her MSc in Gastronomy and wine experience led to the WineTubeMap, a visual way of exploring wine, organised by flavour. The creation of the WineTubeMap has led to an interest in other similar products including whisky (a non-negotiable in her adopted home of Edinburgh), and so, in collaboration, the WhiskyTubeMap was born. Nikki continues to explore the world of flavour maps (beer, cheese and cocktails currently on the list) and writes about her favourite topic, wine and connecting people.

Cassandra Fusten

Citrus: History and Stories

CTF 2019 | 2020

Cassandra Carroll Funsten was born in California where she received a double Bachelor's degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Landscape Architecture and in English Literature. In 2018, she also obtained a M.Sc. in Horticulture at the University of Palermo, specializing in Park and Garden Design and Management. This rather singular education has led to a meandering career path that, at times, wanders more towards the humanities, more towards garden restoration or, when she is most fortunate, towards both. Since 2008, She has been living and working in Palermo, Sicily where she collaborates with both private and public historic gardens conducting historical research, site evaluations and creating restoration plans. She has also worked extensively in public relations - designing and carrying out educational, outreach, and tourism projects for Sicily's historic gardens.

Rina Poletti

Northern pasta making - Emilia Romagna traditions

CTF 2016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019 | 2020

A professional pasta maker and teacher of local cuisine since 1979, she’s now dedicated to teaching the ancient art of the “rolling pin” to make fresh pasta dough. She brings a big smile and tons of energy to the kitchen, where she walks students through Emilia Romagna pasta favorites like tortellini, tagliatelle and lasagna. She started the non-profit Missione Mattarello to help those affected by recent earthquakes with fresh pasta benefit dinners.

Rachel Roddy

The Language of Food

CTF 2019 | 2020

Rachel Roddy was born in Southampton in 1972 but grew up in London. Trained as an actress she moved to Rome in 2005 where she began writing, mostly about food, on her blog Racheleats. Her first book, Five Quarters was published in 2015 and won both the André Simon Food Book Award and The Guild of Foodwriters First Book Award. Her second book Two Kitchens was published in 2017. She has written for The Financial Times, The Telegraph, Conde Nast Travel, Eater, National Geographic and has an award winning weekly column in The Guardian called Notes from an Italian kitchen. She lives in Rome with her Sicilian partner and son.

Barny Haughton

Food Education

CTF 2019 | 2020

Barny Haughton is a chef, restaurateur, cookery school teacher and Eco Food pioneer. He has run three award-winning restaurants in Bristol over the last 25 years (Rocinantes, Quartier Vert and Bordeaux Quay). He is best known for his work at Square Food Foundation, Bristol’s Cookery School & Community Kitchen where is Director and Head Teacher, teaching people from all walks of life to cook good food from scratch. Barny is also professor of Food Education Studies at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy, a member of the Academy of Culinary Arts and an advisor to the judges for the Soil Association’s Organic Food Awards. Barny regularly gives talks and demonstrations at food conferences, festivals, schools and community projects.

Emmanuele Cottone

Butchering the whole animal

CTF 2018 | 2019 | 2020

Emmanuele is widely regarded as the best butcher in Palermo and is known for his choice and cuts of beef at Macelleria Cottone. He has a varied and excellent selection of cured meats as well as famous for hand sliced salami. He uses butchering techniques from all over Europe but is primarily Sicilian in scope. He does not raise his own animals yet works closely with farmers to choose and specify the breeds and conditions of his meat.

Andrea Paternoster

Miele Thun: Honey tasting

CTF 2016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019 | 2020

From his grandfather he takes both name and surname, as well as a passion for beekeeping. Andrea wants to make the honey a known food, appreciated and used in every kind of culinary preparation. Based in Trento-Northern Italy, in the early 90’s he decided to bring the bees outside Trentino Alto Adige to the most rich in flowers and uncontaminated places in Italy.  This research, and the production of excellence that follows, led him to obtain numerous awards both at home and abroad as well as the enthusiastic appreciation of renowned chefs.

Carlo Amodeo

The Black Bee of Sicily

CTF 2016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019 | 2020

Carlo came across beekeeping almost by accident: he never imagined that passion and taste would shape his future, yet he’s always loved honey and the world of the bees. Years ago he wanted to try to keep hives himself...and from there he now has a business with around 1,500 hives. He’s now considered an expert honey maker and personally responsible for bringing back from almost extinction Sicily’s black honey bee. The processing plant is in the country, near the park of San Calogero, yet they keep hives all over Sicily to produce various types of monofloral honeys.

Giacomo Gatì

Cheese Making and Pastures

CTF 2016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019 | 2020

Giacomo Gatì produces exceptional goat cheeses in a small dairy in Campobello where he raises the autochthonous goat race, Capra Girgentana. This breed used to be quite popular in Sicily, yet the population dwindled as it was replaced by more productive breeds. Today, thanks to the passion and commitment of Giacomo, these last farmers have found reason to preserve this breed: Gatì has allowed them to find an outlet for the production of milk. The animals are raised on pasture with a small integration of beans, barley, oats and the ever-present carobs. In addition to buying milk from other breeders, Giacomo and his wife Nina also breed around thirty goats and produce various types of goats. He’s famous for using natural rennets in his cheese and recovering an ancient method of conservation whose memory had been lost: the tumaammucciata, a technique that uses liquid plaster for slow maturation in summer months and comes from the tradition of hiding fresh cheese in cracks of the walls built in plaster and stone.

Gianfranco Marrone

Meat, Death + Semiotics

CTF 2019 | 2020

Gianfranco Marrone is a full time Professor of Semiotics in the Department of Cultures & Society at the University of Palermo, Italy. He teaches Semiotics of Food at the University of Pollenzo, and Semiotics at IULM (Milan). He has also lectured in many other universities such as Bologna and Milan (Italy), Limoges (France), São Paulo (Brazil), Bogotà (Colombia), Meknès (Maroc), and Jyväskylä (Finland). His research interests include mass-media studies, aesthetics as well as literary theory from a semiotic perspective. His research in the field of semio-aesthetics primarily deals with the nexus between signification/perception. His most recent work has made an innovative contribution to the field of socio-semiotics applied to food, brand, cities, journalism, space, politics, advertising, fashion, and TV.

Francesco Sottile

Slow Food Presidia

CTF 2016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019 | 2020

Francesco Sottile was born and raised in Palermo, and graduated from the University of Palermo with a PhD in Ecophysiology of Woody Trees Species. He has worked at Cornell University, with the Slow Food International Foundation of Biodiversity, and has lectured at the International Society for Horticultural Sciences. Francesco is now an Associate Professor at the University of Palermo, in the Department of Agricultural and Forest Sciences.

Mary Taylor & Natalia Simeti

Wine Maker

CTF 2019 | 2020

Mary Taylor Simeti was born and brought up in New York City. In 1962 she went to Sicily, where she married and raised two children. Her books are the acclaimed Sicilian Food, On Persephone’s Island, Travels with a Medieval Queen and Bitter Almonds with Maria Grammatico. A respected food writer who occasionally contributes to the New York Times, Mary lives in Sicily with her husband Tonino. Her daughter, Natalia, now runs the family farm in Alcamo where they make wine, vinegar and grow fruit and vegetables. She has a degree in Cultural Heritage Conservation and a Master in Museology. She worked in museums and as an art historian before turning going full time to the farm.

Livio Tognon

Vine Pruning Systems

CTF 2016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019 | 2020

Livio Tognon is part of the Simonit & Sirch Pruning Guys team, a group that works with vineyards around Italy. We are a Team of 20 technicians engaged in training the new generation of winegrower. Since 2003, we are committed to rediscover pruning as craftsmanship. We propose training courses, complemented by outreach activities. We are persuaded our pruning method is ideal for training old and new pruners. We propose a modern cutting technique to pruners, which avoids the serious consequences of pruning cuts, and works against the deterioration of the vineyards.

Sandro Sangiorgi

Wine Communication

CTF 2016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019 | 2020

Essayist, author of important monographs dedicated to wine and to ways of approaching wine, an important personality of the Italian gastronomic literature of the last three decades. He rebuilt some aspects of the brief but intense history of wine criticism in Italy. He’s a journalist, author and professional sommelier and a founding member of Slow Food. He lectures and leads tastings around the world, and has taught at the University of Bordeaux and Middlebury College. He has written numerous books and articles on the topic of wine and is considered the most notable Italian author on this subject. In 2006 he was awarded the prestigious Oscar Duemilavini as the best Italian journalist in the food-related realm.

Arianna Occhipinti

Wine Maker

CTF 2016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019 | 2020

Arianna Occhipinti is a young winemaker from Vittoria, in the south-eastern tip of Sicily, the warm island off of Italy’s Mediterranean coast. In a region often associated with Marsala and with producing bulk quantities of full-fleshed, plummy and ripe reds made for export and blending, Arianna Occhipinti’s wines are non-conformist and highly atypical for the region. Her wines (made from the indigenous grapes Nero d’Avola and the little-known Frappato) reflect, in part, her character: mysterious, earthy and intriguing. The wines are perfumed and spicy, with a bit of a wild streak that mirrors the rebellious energy that bubbles beneath her reserved and somewhat wary exterior.



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