The second part of my interview is always telling, since I inquire about their life outside of the workplace. Learning about Michael's family and expectations of others make for excellent reading, as he manages to express a great deal in few words.
Read the first part of our interview with Michael over here!
We wrap things up below . . .
Let's talk about growing up in a Sicilian family steeped in culinary traditions.
My family owns a restaurant and restaurant supply company. My father had the first pizza delivery company in the tri-state area. I saw the hours and true dedication that was required just to survive in this industry, and it led me to attempt a very different career path at a young age.
Where did you grow up, and where's home these days?
I grew up in Schenectady, New York. Home is now Torrance.
Tell us something most people don't know about you.
My original career path was aviation mechanics.
Last movie watched; how was it?
The last movie I saw was Chef on Netflix. I could relate to much of it emotionally, especially being a father in the hospitality industry.
You have a whole day to yourself; what do you do?
My days off are never by myself; it's the only day I get to spend alone with my daughter. I make her homemade waffles, and then we usually play dress up and have tea parties.
Hardest lesson you've learned:
I have very high expectations for others, just as I have for myself. Those expectations are not met in the hospitality industry when someone doesn't have the drive or the passion, and I must part ways with them quickly.
What turns you on– creatively, spiritually or emotionally.
Tradition is a big turn on for me. I love learning the history and personal stories of creation, such as the origin of a recipe.
What is your favorite childhood memory?
Apple picking. It was the same time every year, and it was the only day of the year that my entire family would be together.
Boston vs. Miami vs. Orange County living: pros or cons?
Boston was much closer to home and family. However, when I was there in 2006 it was still a blossoming culinary community. The nightlife and party scene in Miami was overwhelming and exciting. The overlapping diversity in Orange County, from blue collar to white collar, feels much more diverse and much more like home.
Last thing you looked up online:
Biltong – South African dried beef (that we'll soon be offering at the shop).
What would you be doing if you weren't in this business?
Had I not become a chef, I would be a carpenter.
Is there anything you'd like readers to know that we haven't asked?
Our shop is a concept inspired by my cousin, who is both the rancher and butcher in the same Sicilian town. These projects are the result of passion and respect, and we hope our customers can see that.