HUNTINGDON was a test-bed this week for a new range of Italian cooking set to be introduced to the Marriott group's UK hotels dining rooms. The idea, part of an innovative UK-wide training programme, was to teach hotel chefs how to make perfect Italian fare. Leading the Huntingdon Marriott team was head chef Phil Walters, but he was bested by Northampton colleague Amako Donatus, who goes on to the company final at the Park Lane Marriott next week. Over 60 Marriott chefs are being trained to prepare fresh, authentic pasta and risotto by the Italian culinarian Silvia Maccari. Once the chefs have perfected their craft, a new Italian menu, paired with delicious wines at great prices, will be offered to Marriott diners. A spokesman said: "Marriott is focusing on a different approach to food and beverage by creating a total culinary experience. The hands-on classes, led by Silvia, combine practical teaching sessions as well as theoretical classroom style training elements." Paul Downing, regional vice-president of operations for the UK, Ireland, Middle East and Africa, added: "Marriott has always made significant investments in its associates, and has a reputation for superior customer service. Both chefs and customers will benefit from this programme that reflects Marriott's constant innovation in training, ensuring the best for its associates." The Italian cooking training sessions also form part of Marriott's 'CookSmart' programme which teaches chefs the fundamental basic principles needed to produce great food. The Huntingdon Marriott Hotel has won several past awards in The Hunts Post Huntingdonshire Business of the Year Awards and is a finalist in two categories of the 2009 competition.