There is a man who wears a perfectly pressed white coat. He stands at attention silently calculating the precise moment when you will be in perfect physical range to greet you with the warmest Italian smile. He then effortlessly ushers you into a theater designed to tantalize your taste buds. His every movement is graceful, accentuated by a manner both sophisticated and attentive, all this is wonderfully balanced with a classically chic style. The man in the white coat is Mauro and he is someone you will not soon forget.
Sometimes you meet people and you like them instantly. Such was the case in my first encounter with the man in the white coat. During my first visit to Salone del Gusto I attended 5 Theater of Taste activities. Each classroom is tended to by a wait staff composed of hospitality students and a teacher that supervises them. All of the young people are kind and accommodating, dressed in uniform and trained to perfection. The students serve wines and carefully prepared dishes under the watchful and expert eye of an instructor.
The Theater of Taste is a complete sensorial experience. Chefs from around the world come to educate and entertain a discerning audience. Smells waft through the auditorium while kitchen sounds can be heard subtly amid the myriad of languages used to explain the workshop. Eyes dance at the sight of ingredients in their prime, fingers caress glass sensing the varying temperatures of vine-shed tears and then… the anticipated moment arrives. A bite composed by a culinary maven allows the taste buds to understand the input from its four friends creating a moment of sensorial solidarity.
Mauro and his team, which changes at each festival, always stand above the rest. They make you feel special. This speaks to this efficacy of his teaching. Having this time participated in classes spread throughout at least 6 different classrooms, each with their own staff, the most memorable were the individuals in the Theater of Taste. They remember the faces of those that attend the performances and smile in recognition when a familiar face walks again through the entrance. Equally interested in providing good service and learning from the event at hand, their faces shine with an eagerness to absorb the information that flies around the room.
Mauro directs them with subtle glances and hand movements almost imperceptible even to the discerning eye. He teaches through example, stepping in to help the cook staff finish plating if necessary. I have an immense respect and admiration for teachers, more so now that I have become one, but mostly because I am lucky enough to know the difference a great teacher can make with a student; not only in their education but in their life. I myself have had 3 notable teachers that helped shape me into who I am today.
“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” -William A. Ward
Mauro is also a husband and a father. Life choices that I am sure make him even better at what he does. I can only imagine how far Mauro’s students will go! I hope to include him in my IPCS project and would bend over backwards to hire or work with any student he sent my way. Any of his students have an open invitation into my kitchen any time they choose to visit, even if just to enjoy a snack. Francesca Fabiani, Federico Pollarolo, Giovanni Otta, Diana Chiriac, Angelo Toledo and Alessia Camattini, thank you for making my trip 100% more enjoyable. Mauro, next time we find ourselves in the same city, I hope you will take me up on an invitation to dinner.
Until next time…