Rome Sustainable Food Project

Program Type: 
Kitchen Classrooms, Garden Classrooms
Grade Level/Age Group: 
Adults/Professionals, College/University
Number of Individuals Program Serves: 
Year Founded: 
About the Program: 

The Rome Sustainable Food Project provides the community of the American Academy in Rome with a collaborative dining program that nourishes scholarship and conviviality. Guided by the indomitable spirit of the Roman table, it is our aim to construct a replicable model for sustainable dining in an institution. In 2006, Alice Waters envisioned the Rome Sustainable Food Project as an eco-gastronomic endeavor that would be a logical extension of the Academy’s values. Since its official launch in February 2007, the Rome Sustainable Food Project has transformed the community of the American Academy in Rome with a collaborative dining program that nourishes and supports both work and conviviality.  

The dining table at the Academy isn’t just delicious, it’s an idea that brings us back to our senses and can be a model for educational institutions everywhere. – Alice Waters


Creating a Model
Honest, nutritious and delicious food is essential to our daily lives. The RSFP is a working model of educational institutional dining that will continue to grow organically and integrate itself fully into the culture of the AAR. Guided by the indomitable spirit of the Roman table, the Rome Sustainable Food Project aims to construct a replicable model for sustainable dining in an institution. Called to the cortile table of the RSFP, the community of the American Academy in Rome joins a delicious revolution to rethink institutional dining. In the manner of the Humanists, we look to the source of Roman culinary traditions with the fresh perspective of sustainable gastronomy. This renaissance has given rise to a new, authentic cuisine unique to the intellectual context that is the Academy. Our food inspired by la cucina romana, Chez Panisse, and the collective experience of those working in the AAR kitchen, has created an edible narrative in our communal meals. Simple, delicious, and nourishing, our meals consciously nourish this small community of artists and scholars fitting seamlessly into its culture.

The RSFP is a member of Rome’s Slow Food Community, and we are actively committed to seasonal, sustainable, and nutritious food. Our menus draw inspiration from the history of food in Lazio, as well as from the culture of the AAR. Like Slow Food International itself, we take the pursuit of good, clean, and fair food as central to our philosophy. We cook seasonally and sustainably; our menus are inspired by the seasonal and organic produce of our local farmers and the cooking techniques of Rome and Lazio. We are not a restaurant: we prepare our food for the same group of people daily with a keen awareness to nutritional balance, intelligent eating, and conscious consumption.


The AAR Garden
In fall 2008 with guidance from AAR gardeners, the Rome Sustainable Food Project began planting and harvesting the fifteen raised beds in the Mercedes T. and Sid R. Bass Garden at the Academy. Eager to get their hands in the soil, the RSFP devotes a full day a week to garden work. The kitchen has harvested many wonderful salads, greens, herbs and radishes from the orto to serve at the dining table. Young cooks, academy fellows and their families have a real desire to learn about growing food and benefit greatly from hands-on gardening. The RSFP is proud to cook and serve its own ortaggi to the AAR community and further connect academic culture to Roman agriculture.


Growing Traditions
We trust our farmers and artisan producers: they are the roots of the project. Local, sustainable food makes good sense. The RSFP has cultivated a network of suppliers within the province of Lazio, la campagna romana, and inspired by rus in urbe (country in the city), fosters relationships with urban agriculture within the ancient Roman walls.


The Internship Program
The RSFP internship and visiting cook program is a dynamic and essential component of the project. Young interns and aspiring cooks are immersed in the daily endeavor of preparing food for the AAR community. Interns are folded into the kitchen and larger Academy community upon their arrival in Rome. For three to five months interns live on Academy premises working morning and/or evening shifts in the kitchen and garden five days a week.

The experience is one of unparalleled Italian culinary and language immersion, as interns work side by side with the chefs, as well as the Italian kitchen staff. The intern program beautifully demonstrates the RSFP’s ongoing commitment to the future of sustainable cooking. To apply for an internship or visiting cook position with the Rome Sustainable Food Project at the American Academy in Rome, please submit application materials at least three months prior to your desired start date; these materials include an introductory cover letter, current resume, and two letters of recommendation from employers or teachers.

Contact to request an information packet or visit the Internships page for more information.


The Academy Bar
Steeped in history, the bar at the American Academy in Rome is a bustling hub of social activity. In 2009, the bar underwent a complete restoration thanks to a generation donation from Richard L. Grubman, AAR Trustee. Over a morning cappuccino or evening aperitivo, everyone from fellows, residents and visitors to academy staff cluster around the bar and gather at tables to break from work, exchange thoughts, and enjoy the community’s company. Where portraits of former fellows line the walls and the Rome Sustainable Food Project’s baked goods are sold warm each morning, the bar is a point of cultural exchange that is truly essential to Academy culture.


Feeding Our Fellows
The central mission of the project is to nourish and support both work and conviviality at the AAR community table. Brad Kessler, a 2008-09 AAR Fellow in Literature, offers some thoughts on the AAR Sustainable Food Project:

Program Members: