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NZMA Students Bridge Gap Between South Auckland and San Lorenzo

The plight of an Italian woman who lost her family in Central Italy’s August 24 earthquake has struck a chord with a group of hospitality and cookery students from NZMA – they recently hosted an Italian canapé lunch in Otahuhu to raise money for her.
Kindergarten teacher Veronica Grondona moved to New Zealand ten years ago, but jumped on a plane to Italy after hearing news of the devastating quake, which claimed the lives of nearly 300 people including her mother Anna Maria Masciolini and brother Luca Grondona. After reading about Veronica’s heartache on, the NZMA students vowed to raise money to help her return to New Zealand.

“Veronica’s story deeply touched myself and my students,” said NZMA Otahuhu hospitality tutor Domenica Bavaro.

“As we all know, a similar tragedy has happened in Christchurch and as a class we decided we wanted to help. We want to help Veronica come back to a safe place where she can feel the compassion and the support of the local community, not just Italian, but also Maori and Pasifika.”

Fifty students spent a month planning the canape lunch, selling tickets for $15 a head. The event drew a full house of 80 guests and raised more than $1000 for the cause. The mouth-watering feast was created by NZMA’s culinary arts students, while NZMA’s hospitality students took care of front-of-house service, function set up and break down. Their skills were assessed by tutors as part of the function segment of their course.

The lunch was also supported by prominent members of the local Italian community including legendary Italian chefs Gaetano Spinosa and Flavia Nascimento (Spacca Restaurant and ex O’Sarracino), who whipped up their much-revered Tiramisu. Cheesemaker Massimiliano De Caro from artisan cheese factory Il Casaro ran a live mozzarella-making demonstration and guests sipped on traditional Italian beer donated by Birra Peroni ambassador Admir Mullaaliu. Dr Bernadette Luciano from the Italian Embassy was the guest speaker, describing the students’ efforts as “testament to humanistic spirit”.

“In moments of tragedy people come together from opposite sides of the world,” she said.

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