After someone claiming to be a former Olive Garden manager claimed on the web that the commercial touting the restaurant's training program at a culinary institute was a sham, the government launched an investigation of the sort not seen since Chef Boyardee was forced to testify in front of congress.
OK, not really. But Time.com's Newsfeed did check into the claims that Olive Garden rents out an off-season hotel and that staffers may spend some time talking about or looking at food, but learning how to cook it? Not so much. According to Newsfeed, "a spokesperson for the hotel confirmed that there's an agreement in place between them and Olive Garden. Olive Garden sends about a dozen people each week in the off-season between November and March. Their chef spends some time with them in the kitchen, but there's no school and the restaurant does not own anything there."
To which I say, "Whatever." Maybe a few people believed Olive Garden was training "chefs" in Italy. Does it matter? Average, Americanized Italian fare such as this is hard to mess up. Glop some sauce on some pasta, mark it up 80% and have at it. (Same with Americanized Tex-Mex: Stuff some cheese and meat in a tortilla and name it according to how you fold it up.) Fact is, Olive Garden, owned by Darden, is a service business. And just as important as the food -- or more -- in such a business is keeping the employees happy enough to smile and treat the customers right while running the 20th basket of bread sticks to the chair-breaking gluttons at table 20. What better way to do that than a trip to Italy once in awhile?
Don't hate Olive Garden because your employer never offered to take you anywhere nice.