Monthly Archives: June 2019

Study abroad in France a tremendous experience

This past week my wife, Deb, and I had the great pleasure of being part of Peter D’Souza’s HT-423 Wine and Food Pairing class that he provided in the Bordeaux region of France. Students attending the class are exposed to food products and food preparation techniques that pair well with various wines.

Peter, as well as local chefs and wine merchants who are world renowned, provided information to the students. In addition, the students visited local chateaus to learn more about the grape varieties grown in the Bordeaux region and how they produce wines that are the hallmark of France.

The class also visited a local chocolatier to experience, firsthand, how chocolate is made and learn about the recipes used to make a spectrum of chocolate products.

UW-Stout students Diarmaid Fitzsimons, Emanuel Hernandez, Mauricio Hernandez, EmmaMay Johnson, Josh Nowak, Bria Weyker and Ben Wisniewski were enrolled in the class. They prepared a three- or four-course meal that they presented to local chefs, winemakers and community leaders.

As part of the meal they explained the strategies they used to properly match the various courses of the meal with appropriate wines to enhance the dining experience. Their planning demonstrated how their choices impacted the flavors, textures and tastes of the dinner and accompanying wines.


This was an amazing and inspiring experience, and Deb and I were really pleased to have taken the time to be part of the class. I learned a lot!

And I left with a profound respect for the hard work that Peter has invested in partnership-building to make this a top-shelf cultural immersion experience for our students.

A great example is the partnership that Peter forged with Megan and Julien Martel.  Megan and Julien own a bed and breakfast facility in Auros, France that they envisioned to be used to support Peter’s class. Peter worked with the Martels to equip the B & B with a classroom and full commercial level kitchen to support the class. Julien and Megan responded by adding these critical elements to the B & B and these investments have become instrumental to student learning and a critical element to the success of the partnership.

Megan and Julien Martel

Visit to Omaha Beach an emotional experience

While I was in France, I also had the opportunity to visit Omaha Beach over Memorial Day weekend. My father entered WWII on Omaha Beach, and I’ve wanted to see it and visit the Germans’ “pill boxes,” which are still there.

It was an emotional experience knowing what my father, our GIs and our fellow Allies risked and sacrificed in the hopes of freeing France.

The timing could not have been better as the locals prepared for the 75th anniversary celebration of D-Day. It was evident as we interacted with them that they continue to be enormously grateful for the sacrifices that were made to bring freedom back to France.

Nearly every storefront had some message of gratitude, and banners with photos honored those who fell during the battles surrounding the Normandy beaches.