What happens when a girl gets a Bachelor’s degree in History and can’t find a job? She learns a trade. And for Lauren Cox, that meant serving in a restaurant in her hometown in Arkansas.
“It was crap. The food was from Sysco, there was no passion,” Cox said. “I started to develop an overall consideration for what I was putting into my body and became interested in how food was made.”
So she pursued her passion to learn the history and education behind food and attended University of Gastronomical Sciences in Italy. After a one year Master’s program filled with field trips to European culinary hotspots like Crete and Barcelona and a three month internship working at a radio station in Tanzania and Uganda, Cox knew that food had forever changed in her mind.
“There has to be a story behind the food, and it starts with consistency and quality,” Cox said. “One field trip I met an 80 year-old man who woke up at 5 every morning to begin making his cheese, starting with putting the rennet in the cream. That inspired me.”
In Africa, Cox was amazed that the African people weren’t using their traditional agricultural practices to provide themselves with food. Instead they relied on food aid such as low quality bread and margarine.
Returning from the apprenticeship, she was ready to influence others. She started with Lucas Caffettani, an Italian whom she had met in a bar during her Master’s program. A boy was the last thing on her mind, but their relationship continued while Lauren worked in Africa.
When she came back to Italy, Lauren convinced Lucas to try WWOOFing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) around Europe. The couple harvested olives in Spain, and in Italy produced miso and learned to make sausages from Cinta Senese, a traditional Tuscan pig that eats chestnuts.
“Lauren introduced me to a whole new picture of food. I grew up with home cooked food but wasn’t interested in the artisanal side and preparation until I had those farming experiences,” Caffettani said.