On the Line: Bruno Serato of Anaheim White House, Part Two

When longtime diners find out about Bruno's CNN story, they ask him, “Why didn't you tell us?” He would never solicit donations, but is appreciative of kind gestures. Over the weekend, a bride requested that all her guests not purchase wedding gifts, but instead bring pasta to the reception. A touching and selfless gesture on a day meant to celebrate the union of husband and wife. It's the kind of generosity you only see on television, or when someone is inspired by those with a big heart.

Hardest lesson you've learned:
Don't ever take your customers for granted; they can disappear in one day after years of taking care of them, and for no reason.

What would your last meal on Earth be?
Spaghetti, olive oil and garlic. I ate this growing up.

Who's your hero, culinary or otherwise?
My mom in every way.

Tell us about your foodservice industry background.
(At the) age of 14, I was in the kitchen. I've been in the business 40 years, from the front of the house to the back.

If your life was made into a movie, who would you want to play you?
Sean Penn is the best actor today.

What is the most valuable characteristic of an excellent water or maitre'd?
Personality and knowledge.

Tell us about the first time you served the homeless motel kids.
It was very sad to see kids starving, but worth it to see them eat our own food and thank me. I used my own pasta and my own marinara sauce.

How do you explain your California cuisine to guests expecting traditional Italian dishes?
We have a lot of traditional Italian dishes that are made as we do in Italy. The few Californian ones are to please the palates of all the customers.

What dish would you tell newcomers to Anaheim White House to try first?
Lobster ravioli, osso bucco, our veal liver or braised beef.

What would you be doing if you weren't in this business?
Hosting a tour group to travel the world.

What advice do you have for those who might be thinking about a career in food?
Don't do it if you are not ready to work 15 hours a day, 7 days a week.

What do you see yourself doing in five years? Ten years?
Doing what I am doing today because I love every day of my life.

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