Massimo Capra was thirteen, living in a small town in Italy, when he first started working in a kitchen. Today Massimo is fifty-nine and a superstar in the Canadian culinary industry. If you’re into restaurants, familiar with Prego, Mistura and good food, then you’ve heard of Massimo and/or delighted in his handy work – superlative food.
But the real thing I’ve discovered about Massimo, over the years and through this interview, is that he is a decent man with a generous spirit. Indeed, Massimo does not reflect those silly stereotypes we frequently see of head chefs. In his words, “it’s hard to bring out the ugly” in him.
Massimo is the type of fellow you feel safe around. He laughs a lot even when we schmoozed about his near-death experience last year. He told us, the doctors said he may not live through the night, and Massimo laughed. (I didn’t when I had my heart attacks). It’s clear, humor is the walking stick he leans on unabashedly! And his thick Italian accent makes every sentence he utters seem so damn fun, tasty and scenic!
Massimo is the son of a dairy farmer. They were “poor, poor, poor“. So early on this highly talented man, learned about sharing. Massimo understood he’d have to work his ass off to accomplish his dream of one day being a self-made man. Today he is. Massimo owns a successful restaurant in Clarkson, called Capra Kitchen and has three others licensed in his name: one in Niagara Falls, another at Toronto airport and a third in Qatar. And he found love over thirty years ago. He adores his wife.
When I opened the door to my place to greet Massimo, I was delighted he had brought with him his beautiful Rosa. I think he did because he likes being with her and she clearly gives him lots of support. Similarly, Marty Galin was the co-host of this show and all of us go way back as buds.
Rosa and Massimo seem the type of couple who hold hands after a few decades of being together. You know those couples?
Rosa is a demur, quiet but a strong woman who gives balance to Massimo’s very effusive and big character. The two suffered a terrible loss last year when their son, Andrew passed away in Prague. Man, such a loss! Sometimes i was unable to find words to say to them (like we all get after hearing of such a tragedy). Marty and I knew Andrew. He was a good kid.
But in truth, Massimo and Rosa have strong inner selves, powerful love between them and their son, Daniel, and they are rooted firmly to the ground. I like to think this interview helped to bring Andrew to life in a way, for a moment, and give his parents some happiness at the gift of having had him as their son. Rest in peace, dear Andrew.
I like to think Hatradio! has the ability to give people gifts.
So this episode (23) of Hatradio! is a special show because Massimo, Rosa, Marty and I were back together again. It was like the old times, days passed when we were all involved in TV shows like ‘Beer Buddies’ and many radio shows. We reminisced about those days and our famous dinners at Mistura Restaurant, an upscale eatery once co-owned by Massimo. We thanked Massimo for taking Marty and me seriously. Some chefs did not.
We schmoozed about the genesis of Massimo’s beet risotto; the process of creating recipes; how Massimo was never interested in being the best (i think he wanted just to be happy); how he was kicked and abused by mentor-chefs in his early days (sometimes the stereotypes are true) and his appreciation of our friendship and the gifts he has in life.
Listen carefully to our interview with Massimo Capra, and be inspired by his joy (real joy, not the bullshit joy people put on), his drive to create and his intentionally strong hold on every second of life. Hear his laughter. You get this sense he’s mocking the devil and saying, ‘you’ll not make me unhappy Devil. I love life way too much.’
Hatradio! It’s the show that schmoozes (with regular folk).