This is a Conversation between Sean Weber-Quigley (SWQ), Executive Chef and Owner of Chico Verde, and Dr. Edna Farace Wilson (EFW), SAI’s Vice President of Academic Affairs.
EFW: When did you decide to become a chef?
SWQ: Cooking has always been a part of my life and I realized in high school when I was a part-time line cook, I wanted to become a chef. After high school, I enrolled in the Apicius School at Florence University of the Arts(FUA) through SAI to study Culinary Arts. In Florence, I honed the skills needed to become a professional chef and gained real-world experience at FUA’s Ganzo Restaurant where I learned the beauty and bounty of Italian cuisine.
EFW: In addition to your culinary courses, how did you develop the professional knowledge needed to become a chef?
SWQ: Living and studying in Italy was fascinating. I chose FUA because of my interest in Italian cooking. I learned so much while I was in Florence. The concept of “slow food” originated in Italy and I had an awesome experience of working alongside culinary experts on slow food and the Mediterranean diet. While at FUA, I served on a team that developed dishes that merged organic fruits and vegetables with local farm cheese, poultry, and meat. After completing the program, I was invited to serve as a Senior Team Chef for an event co-sponsored by FUA and the James Beard Foundation. Our team prepared the meal in the James Beard House which served as a major center for the culinary arts. Again, I had the opportunity to work with expert chefs from FUA and from around the world.
EFW: Tell me more about your current work.
SWQ: During my career, I was inspired to establish my own business. I accomplished that two years ago by starting Chico Verde Philly, which is a private chef service for home-cooked meals and private events. Chico Verde offers both a traditional menu and vegan options. My FUA courses in nutrition and wellness laid the foundation for me to pursue a healthy eating lifestyle and now, I share my creative plant-based recipes with my Chico Verde clients.
EFW: It sounds like you really have found your niche and continue to apply aspects of the Mediterranean Diet to Chico Verde.
SWQ: Yes, I continue to return to my “roots” (no pun intended) of what I learned at Apicius and I encourage anyone who is considering pursuing a culinary career to contact SAI admissions to learn how to enroll in FUA’s culinary program. AND I recommend to anyone studying at FUA to take at least one course in Food and Culture.
EFW: Thanks for the advice, Sean.
Learn more about:
Florence’s Career Certificate Programs https://www.saiprograms.com/florence/fua-career/
SAI’s Program at Florence University of the Arts https://www.saiprograms.com/florence/fua/
Sean Weber-Quigley and Chico Verde Philly https://www.chicoverdephilly.com/