Toronto, interview with Joseph Cosentino

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Who are you? Joe Cosentino is the director of Food Services at the Columbus Center. We run a fine dining restaurant a café and we do banquets. Where were you born? He was born in Buenos Aries, Argentina. My parents are Italian from Calabria and migrated to Argentina after the war. What are the differences between Italian and Canadian Culture as regards food? My experience is in the restaurant environment. The Italian culture goes to a restaurant to eat food that they are familiar with. Canadian people (North Americans) go to restaurants to eat food that they are not familiar with – to eat something different. That is the difference I found between the two cultures. Italians like familiarity and Canadians like to experience something different. What do Canadians want as for food? If they cannot cook a good plate of pasta at home. Canadians will go out to find a good plate of pasta. When Italian people come to our restaurant we try to provide them with the same great plate of pasta tbat they cook at home every day. What is your education? I went to a conventional High School and University . I did not study anything relating to Food Service or Beverage. I thought of being a Physical Education Teacher but switched to a Business major and studied Finance and Accounting. Why did you change your idea about a career? I didn’t change my ideas – I had always been doing this kind of business. Since I was 12 years old. I worked as waiter, bus boy, Pizza Cook and many other jobs in the restaurant business. These were my odd jobs as I was growing up and in High School and College. Are you a good cook? Yes, I am a good cook … but not a chef. I would never insult Chefs, who study and work so hard, by calling myself one of them. What is your favorite meal to cook? I like to make many of the simple but nice pasta dishes, like carbonara, pasta e fagioli, matriciana…. What does food mean to you? Food is an expression of our culture. Food is accoglienza. It is welcoming and social. What is the best wine for you? I studied this very much and I think for my palate wine from Veneto ,Valpolicella Amarone and others, are the best for me. I have had good Chianti’s and other Italian wines but they don’t attract me as much as the wines from Veneto. It is a personal thing. What do you miss from Italy? I can’t even tell you everything. I try to go back to Italy as often as I can – maybe once every two years and it is not enough for me. It is the only place I go for vacation. I wish I could go more often because, despite the fact I did not grow up in Italy, it seems like home to me. Why is Italy declining and Canada going up? I don’t know that Italy is going down compared to Canada, all of Europe is having their economic problems. With people I deal with there, everyone complains but everyone seems to be happy. What do you wish for yourself and what do you wish for the world? I think there should be more respect for each other in the world and I want respect and try to respect others. It is very simple for me. Respect.