Bruna Iacuzzi couldn’t help but bring a little bit of her homeland to JCCC. She hails from Sardinia, an island southeast of Italy on the Mediterranean Sea.
So when she was in charge of planning the menu for her food management class, she turned to “home” cooking – Italian.
The class serves in the Jerry Vincent Hospitality Suite in the Office and Classroom Building each Thursday. Iacuzzi, always one for a challenge, accepted her professor’s invitation to be the first student of the semester to plan a menu and supervise the luncheon, which her classmates would serve to select guests.
“The room was decorated in red and black, with red roses on the table: an Italian theme,” Iacuzzi said.
The menu was a phantasmagoria of flavor. Smoked mullet with caramelized onions in a cream sauce. Chicken Saltimbocca. Tiramisu.
(A translation for the non-foodies: Chicken Saltimbocca is marinated chicken with prosciutto and sage, and tiramisu is a classic Italian dessert made with ladyfingers, mascarpone cheese and cocoa. Hungry yet?)
Iacuzzi works at Lidia’s restaurant in Kansas City, Mo., which specializes in Italian cooking.
Her employment began in a circuitous but fortuitous manner.
“I first experienced Felidia’s restaurant in New York City and absolutely loved the food and atmosphere. I researched online and was thrilled to discover that Lidia, the owner, had a restaurant in Kansas City. So, I asked for an internship at Lidia’s and was offered an opportunity,” Iacuzzi said.
In addition to her coursework in food and beverage management, Iacuzzi is vice president of leadership of Phi Theta Kappa, the student honor society, and a member of Student Senate. She also is active in the academic excellence team and hospitality management club.
She went with the hospitality management club to a conference in Chicago last spring and loved the conference as well as the city.
“It’s like New York, only less chaotic. Very Midwestern friendly, too,” she said.
The Midwest, to be honest, was not Iacuzzi’s first choice when she applied to be an exchange student.
“I asked for a place with beaches,” she said. “I come from an island. There are beaches everywhere. I could not imagine going somewhere without an ocean.”
When she was told she was going to Kansas, she had to look it up on the map. She realized Kansas is on neither the Atlantic nor the Pacific.
Instead of surfing and sunning, she lived on a grain, corn and wheat farm in Brookville, Kan., population 263, and learned how to harvest the crops.
“The people there are really amazing,” she said. “I am glad I had that experience.”
She’s also thankful for her athletic experiences. She played basketball for her high school while in Brookville, and she played soccer for JCCC last year.
“The practices were a lot harder than I thought they’d be,” she said. Still, she said, she’s glad she did it.
She’s won a few scholarships, including one from the hospitality program. Additionally, she completed the Cavalier Leadership Development Program, where she learned leadership skills she hopes to use someday at a restaurant or hotel.
Jake Akehurst, manager of student activities and leadership development, met Iacuzzi during that program.
“Bruna was a consistent presence each week of the Cavalier Leadership Development,” he said. “She used CLDP as a great starting point to make connections with other students and seek out further leadership opportunities on campus.”
Edward Adel, assistant professor, hospitality management, said Iacuzzi is one of his most determined students. “With all the student activities she is involved in – plus her studies and a weekend job – I do not know how she balances everything.”
Adel said she volunteers for the hospitality club, baking cookies at 7 p.m. for fundraising sales every Wednesday.“I refer to her as ‘Cookie’ often during those early morning hours,” Adel said. “She is great and liked by everyone she meets.”