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We love food, but we couldn’t serve up a magazine without a talented kitchen staff. Luckily, lots of other volunteers share our dreams too. Indeed, Spezzatino is created almost entirely by volunteers.

Here are our stories.

Research & Administration

Writing

Photography & Illustration

We’re always looking for excellent contributions, and we’re looking for volunteer writers, photographers, designers, cooks and all manner of driven, creative people to join our team. Want to contribute? Great! Get in touch.

Phil Caravaggio, Publisher

Phil at the 2008 Chef Congress

One of the first pieces of food wisdom Phil received from his Italian grandmother was: “Everything is edible if you chew it enough.”

He estimates that as a result of this advice, he has since consumed approximately 500 decorative cake beads. (Thus far he seems to have suffered no ill effects, so in this case at least, nonna’s pronouncement was right on the money.) The cake beads in question were eaten as part of shared family birthday parties held in his grandparents’ basement (Room capacity: 40 seated, 100 standing, or 250 bushels of vegetables.)

As you’ll read in our first issue, Phil’s grandmother instilled a deep love of cuisine in him. “She lived and breathed food and cared deeply about its quality.”

In his early twenties, Phil lived with his grandmother while he did a nearby job placement. “In retrospect,” he recalls, “that was in many ways a bad idea, because she was 80 at the time and worried endlessly about my coming home at all hours of the night, never calling and so on. She didn’t like any of that, and she let me know, constantly. Every morning was a breakfast of nagging and Corn Flakes (which she loved, for some inconceivable reason).”

But yet, this relationship produced one of the best meals he’s ever had.

After a particularly early and challenging morning during which he considered moving out, “I took out my lunch bag, which my grandmother packed for me daily, and bit into the sandwich she’d made. In it was roasted chicken breast, glazed with herbs and olive oil and stuffed with garlic, parmesan, spinach and presumably some kind of opiate, because it was the best damn meal I have ever tasted in my life. I cancelled all appointments to look at other apartments, lived out the term, and ate better than ever. And though I never could get that recipe from her (wise woman), many of my greatest memories of my grandmother come from that time.”

Phil’s work with good friend Dr. John Berardi and Precision Nutrition inspired his love for all things nutrition-related. Ultimately, Phil wants to make food simultaneously healthier and more affordable. “The industrialization of food has made it cheaper and worse;” he says, “I’d like to see it become cheaper and better.”

Right now Phil is into Roman cooking. “I’ve spent a lot of time in Rome and have a particular love of the city… Romans are just great people as a whole, and passionate about virtually everything. I love their attitudes, traditions and especially their food culture. Roman cooking is a very specific style of Italian cooking that relies on obscure but delicious cuts of meat, fresh vegetables, mediocre wine and really, really good coffee.”

For Phil, some of the best things about working on the Healthy Food Bank magazine include “getting to work with so many talented people, all of whom share both a love of food and a genuine desire to help others. Talking food with such bright, driven people is an absolute blast, and to be able to do it for a great cause just makes it all the more rewarding.”

Krista Scott-Dixon, Editor-in-Chief

Krista’s YouTube video on Why I Do Spezzatino

When she isn’t eating, cooking, writing, or thinking about food, Krista lurks in organic grocery stores, farmer’s markets, and the small supermarkets that abound in Toronto’s multicultural communities. Her latest victory came in a deli in the city’s Polish Roncesvalles neighbourhood – finding the type of blueberry pirogis that her baba used to make by hand with fresh wild blueberries picked in Kenora’s surrounding forests and fields.

Raised as the daughter of a nutritionist, and hailing from Ukrainian stock from rural northern Ontario, the closeness between earth and table was always evident to Krista. Forget the “100-mile diet” – Krista grew up on the “100-foot diet”!

While other kids were at summer camp, Krista was getting her toes nibbled by pigs in Thunder Bay and setting minnow traps in Lake Agimak. Fish came directly from lakes – caught, cleaned and cooked within a few hours. Berries came from the woods, picked by little hands happily filling plastic ice cream tubs with the tiny blue-black gems, later to be eaten in gramma’s fluffy buckwheat pancakes. Vegetables came from baba’s garden. Eggs had to be wrestled away from angry chickens in the henhouse, a task that required great bravery on the part of a seven-year-old girl. (Krista isn’t sure what happened to the pet goose that roamed the camp, but she’s pretty certain it didn’t just go away to live on a farm.) In the fall, uncles who hunted would often send moose steaks that filled the freezer and the palate with their gamey flavour. Occasionally there would even be a rare treat: beaver meat.

Krista’s culinary childhood is full of the smells, sights, and savours of Ukrainian home cooking as well as the kitchen wisdom of her grandparents and great-grandparents: ruby-red borscht adorned with a silky blop of sour cream (“puts roses in your cheeks!”); hearty whole-grain breads (“eat the crusts, it’ll give you curly hair”); kielbasa sizzling on sticks and toasted over the fire; pillowy pirogi cooked with bacon and garnished with chives picked by the kitchen door; and gossamer-jacketed cabbage rolls slathered with tomatoes (“keeps you regular!”).

Whenever possible, food was cooked, eaten, and even cleaned up outdoors, with the younger kids getting the task of washing the dishes in big ceramic bowls with water hauled from the lake.

As an adult with a deep interest in health, wellness and physical fitness, as well as the owner of a tiny city garden, Krista tries to carry on these original “slow food” traditions of her foremothers by sharing the equation that food = love.

Carmelo Galati, Art Director


As a child, Carm loved chick peas. He remembers sitting with his mother in the kitchen as she cooked, and when she wasn’t looking he’d sneak chick peas right out of the can. Some years later, he visited his family in Calabria, the southernmost part of Italy’s boot.

“I will never forget the meal we had at my uncle’s farm,” he recalls. “We sat under the grape vines surrounded by beautiful vistas and the sounds of cows and chickens. We began at lunch and kept eating until dinner. Then we ate again. Everything was fresh. The pasta was made that day. The chicken slaughtered that morning. Fruit right from the trees. Prickly pears picked as we ate. Fresh tomatoes, picked and made into sauce. We laughed. We ate. We ate. We laughed.”

Now as a parent himself, Carm thinks not only about his own health, but that of his children.

As he says, “I am most passionate about being able to purchase healthy snacks and treats for my children that do not sit in a plastic container that is seeping chemicals into their bodies. This has made a significant change in what food we buy, what it is packaged in and how we store it once we get it home. It is very important to be cognizant of what you feed your children. For me, finding healthy food that my kids will think is fun and tasty is an ongoing goal.”

Currently, he’s working on producing frittatas. “I love making frittatas! And I’ll try putting anything in it. Peas, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, any kind of meat and anything else I can find in the fridge.”

Carm is happy to be the designer of Spezzatino and the Healthy Food Bank’s logo and visual identity.

For him, the mandate of the HFB is important enough to find time to volunteer despite a busy schedule as a parent and running his own graphic design studio, Seesaw Creative Communications.

“Designing for a worthy cause is more rewarding than designing products that are strictly for profit. Why not use our powers for good every once in a while?”

Jason Grenci, Photography Director

Food is central to Jason’s memories of growing up in an Italian family. Yet when he was younger, he never understood the significance of his culinary heritage.

“In the past,” he says, “I never really took the time to sit down and look at food closely, to understand its importance in our culture… to really understand what motives and perceptions lie behind the idea that good food is the essence of life.” He even disliked anchovies and tomatoes, two important ingredients in Italian cuisine.

All of that changed with a meal cooked by his uncle and served in a loft in Switzerland. Temporarily distracted by the abundance of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, olives, Tuscan olive oil with fresh bread, and Chianti’s finest red wine, Jason didn’t notice his uncle sneaking the dreaded anchovies into the pasta sauce.

As it turns out, the sauce was delicious, and now anchovies, “those little awful-tasting fish, have become my best friends! I know I’m making it sound like some kind of Olympic triumph,” he laughs, “but for me, it was! The new enjoyment of this food made me stop and look at food differently, with a new appreciation. It was about looking at things in a new way, and allowing yourself to make changes.”

From that point on, all he wanted to do was eat, cook and photograph food.

“I have a responsibility to myself to be healthy as much as possible, and cooking with the fresh whole foods that are available in season is one of the best ways to do this… I enjoy the taste better when I know how fresh the food is.”

This “obsessed fondness” also led to improved health and weight loss, but what makes him feel best is “the control over my food choices, the great tastes that I can have from things that walk on land, grow from the ground and swim in the waters. These are all things we were meant to live from, and by choosing to eat them, I feel I am doing a good thing for myself.”

Jason feels that food photography keeps him close to the food and helps him create “a feast for the eyes”. “You eat with your eyes first”, he says simply. For more of Jason’s photography, check out Gourmet Nutrition and www.jasongrenci.com.

(By the way, Jason has since conquered his hatred of tomatoes, for which we’re grateful, considering how much time he had to spend with them for Vol 1’s photo shoot!)