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All photos by © Giulia Emanuela Storti

It’s been a while since I had the reason to dress up and celebrate. And this was a good reason. In November, the Italian Chamber of Commerce of Ontario hosted the fourth annual Pentola d’Oro Awards Gala in Toronto. I was so pleased to be an invited guest, this great event (for which I have previously sat on the judging committee) honours leaders in the Italian-Canadian food industry – now that is something I can get behind.

My family used to own a restaurant, and now in my full-time job I work in the food industry as well, so I am very familiar with the time, effort, dedication, and pure sweat it takes to make a business grow. And to stay true to your roots, and what you believe in, to maintain traditions and the integrity of good food along the way can be tough.

But those who were honoured did just that. Most importantly to me, they strive to share the beauty of Italian living through food. And while the food and mingling was amazing that night, what struck me the most was the messages from the awards recipients.

Domenic Primucci, president of Pizza Nova, was awarded the City of Vaughan Italy-Canada Award Primucci, and spoke about the importance of culture in both food and business. “We have a void in the living legacy of our culture… Canada allows everyone to celebrate our culture but we must check our egos at the door and collaborate.”

“Italian immigrants worked very hard and significantly impacted this country. We place a lot of importance on food. Love and laughter around the kitchen table it’s where we learn right and wrong and the hard work our parents did,” said Carmine Fortino, Executive Vice President & Ontario Division Head for Metro Ontario Inc. Fortino was awarded the Jan K. Overweel Ltd. Pentola d’Oro Award.

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Also, Rob Gentile, Chef at Buca Osteria & Enoteca was awarded the Pizza Nova Favourite Hotspot Award and eight Italian restaurants in Ontario were selected by the Italian Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Economic Development, Agriculture, Tourism, and Culture in collaboration with Unioncamere and ICCO to receive the Marchio Ospitalità Award. They were recognized for their dedication to Italian authenticity and meeting the highest standard in the industry.

The food was spectacular, the art was magical and the music from DIA was amazing. What stays with me long after these nights of awards though is the desire to strive to do better personally in living and preserving my culture. As Fortino noted, we all must “promote Italian food and culture in a Canadian way.” That’s something to be honoured.

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