One Italian chef considers food as a gift to his customers. "I don't use luxurious materials to cook or make a good presentation. My dish is like mama's style – in my dishes you will find homemade taste." When we met in his working Italian restaurant, the head chef of Sparkle Gelato began his self introduction with an attitude toward food that borders on obsession.
Born in October 1953 in Milan, Massimo Moro grew up in a traditional Italian family with his brother and sister. In his youth, his mother cooked everyday for the family.
"As early as the age of ten, I went to the kitchen to help my mama, cutting and washing vegetables or preparing things for the meals. I liked to stay in the kitchen, but my brother and sister never did. I also helped my papa make wine for the whole year."
When I watched the Olympic Games, I could say 'Oh, that was my sport!'
After finishing junior high school at the age of 15, Massimo began to train as a student athlete. With such a large stature, it is difficult to imagine that he used to row on an eight-man boat.
It was a tough experience. He and his team trained 2000 meters - the Olympic standard - every day on the river. At the senior level he trained four days a week, finishing school at three or four o'clock and then going home to help with his family's work. Afterwards he would train from six to eight.
Massimo said rowing is not like basketball, baseball, boxing or soccer - which can earn athletes a lot of money - or golf, which one can play at almost 70 years old. What is more, 25 years old is the peak time, and 27 is already the limit for a rower to compete. "People must really love the sport; you don't do it for the money."
Eventually he and his team rowed into the Munich Olympic Games in 1972. But at the age of 27, he retired from rowing. "It had no money. I can row forever, but for competition my body didn't have enough energy. Also, I must work and take care of my family. I began to miss the training, but I could no longer afford it. However, I am very proud of the sport. When I watch the Olympic Games, I can say 'Oh, that's my sport!'"
Massimo has a lovely side.
In addition to rowing, Massimo loves all kinds of aquatic sports such as swimming, diving, fishing and even water polo. "Don't forget! My hometown is a city with a river like Guangzhou. I am a good swimmer!"
Natural connection with food
There is a natural connection between Massimo and food. After retiring from the "arena" he walked into his beloved culinary world. "Food is endless and I am learning everyday. For example, pizza was born in Italy. It is made of bread, cheese, a little tomato. The Italians developed it, but now we have American-style pizza, Mexican pizza and even chocolate pizza. I love the fun you can have with food."
He has tried different roles in his life. He taught cooking technique and equipment usage in a cuisine school in Canada's Vancouver from 1994 to 1995. In addition he was awarded a food science degree and has a license to test food quality.
Massimo is acquainted with many languages due to his working and living experience in many places in the world. He now owns the Italian Bistro, Massimo Gelato Café, in Los Angeles, which has attracted many Hollywood stars and directors.
(By Jessie Hwang, Stephen Roach)