By Hansol Hwang —
Noodles, like bread and rice, are a simple staple for many countries. It is a foundation to dishes in various parts of the world, taking the hungry eater into a world of satisfaction. It gives life.
The Chinese believe that noodles add longevity to one’s life–an underrated power. But the power of pasta is inherent to a native Italian and CNN hero, Bruno Serato. He is the head chef at the Anaheim Whitehouse restaurant, and as founder of Caterina’s Club Serato serves pasta to almost 2,000 underprivileged children every day.
Although Serato is the head chef of his restaurant he attributes his success to God.
“He is my boss,” Bruno Serato said. “I only have one boss. I better listen to him because he can fire me anytime he wants to. I am lucky to have faith in God.”
In the following interview, Serato speaks out about how his life of faith influences him and also how religion and food can play a role for achieving peace.
Religio Magazine: Does God play a strong role in your life today?
Bruno Serato: He is my BOSS! I only have one boss. I better listen to him because he can fire me anytime he wants to. I am lucky to have faith in God.
RM: Who in biblical history would you cook for?
BS: My dream is to cook pasta for Jesus! But also I would like to cook for the Virgin Mary. It would be a gift to cook for God as well. One day I will. I know that when it is my time I will cook pasta for him. I would also love to cook for Moses. There are a lot of people in biblical history that I would love to cook for.
RM: It seems like you know a lot about the Bible.
BS: I love to watch anything on television that has to do with the Bible. I do that often. For example, I like to watch documentaries when I can.
When I am home at night, instead of watching a movie, I prefer to watch a Bible documentary like the big one that came out called the “The Bible Series.” That was amazing because you learn things. I think every day there should be a Bible TV show. Think about that. People would understand more instead of watching unnecessary stuff on TV.
Sometimes it is difficult to interpret certain things [in the Bible], but when it is a movie or documentary it is so much easier to get the picture. It was powerful. A friend of mine converted because I kept watching these movies. He was an atheist.
I never force anyone to turn out Catholic, Christian or any other religion. I never push it, but when he started to watch these movies he now reads the Bible more than I do. I think he was ready to learn something more.
RM: What is your favorite book in the Bible?
BS: (Reference to Luke 14:12-14). There is one line Jesus would say when you have a celebration. He said that you do not just invite the rich people because you want them to invite you back to their own party one day, but you invite the poor and the sick even though you know that they won’t invite you back.
I believe in what I am doing today, I do not expect [the poor children] to invite me back. This is a line of the Bible I love the most because it is something that has to do with my mission. I think that it is very powerful. Sometimes people invite rich friends because their rich friends can invite them back. I invite poor people because the poor people don’t invite me back.
RM: How do you have such a big heart?
BS: I have the heart of my mom. My mom is the one who made me into who I am today. Around me I am trying to spread a good virus.
RM: Hunger isn’t just an issue we just see around us–it is all over the world. What kind of role do you think food can play for achieving peace in the world?
BS: I think it is extremely important. I think if everyone around the world has something to eat then we will have less criminals. Think about war and fighting, not only in the Middle East but even downtown Los Angeles. There is a lot of anger. A reason why people fight is because people don’t have food. If people have food every day and every night, then people will be happier and there will be less crime.
I do believe food is important for everybody. If you are hungry you can be a criminal for a piece of bread. You can be angry…mad. You can even lose control because your brain without food cannot function normally. For example, when we are hungry and we don’t eat, we are not in as good of a mood. Imagine if you don’t eat for a few days. We can turn out to be bad people ourselves. Even if we are good people, food plays an important part for the world in terms of peace.
God told us to share the bread right? There was a reason. He said to multiply the fish. There was a reason. If you connect the question with the Bible then the answer is there also. He multiplied bread and fish and people started to come down. Imagine if we do that to the world. The people are starving. Some father can be a criminal to give food for kids. They can rob, get mad and even kill sometimes. You have to understand why those people turn out in a bad way. They shouldn’t but deep inside there is always a reason.
RM: A majority of the world is religious, how do you think that influences war?
BS: I had a discussion about that with a friend who is Muslim. I dine with different people all the time. One of my favorite subjects is religion. I always ask what kind of religion are you, but it doesn’t matter what you are, I just like to learn about religion.
I feel like people don’t know what religion is. People don’t spend time to study or to learn about religion. If people would do that than there would be much more peace because if you know other people’s religion then you can get cultured. Just because they are a different religion doesn’t make them bad people.
A nephew told me one time that Muslims are bad people. I told him to sit and talk with me. He is 14 years old and he watches that on TV because he doesn’t see that in real life. I said to him “Sit down with me. Why you say that?”
Nephew: “They are terrorists.”
Serato: “My best friend is not a terrorist. He is family. He is my friend.”
Nephew: “But a lot of them are…”
Serato: “NO a few of them are…It is the ignorance of people of not understanding religion…”
I believe if we learn more about it then we realize there are a lot more good people. Every religious leader should get together at least once a week to have dinner with a plate of pasta next to them. Think about that. If every religious leader gathered around a round table eating pasta together then you can spread world peace. Because we don’t do that, because we have different views of religion, that is why we fight in war.
RM: How does ignorance of different religions become solved?
BS: School. It is a big problem right now even in my own country Italy. We used to have a class of catechism and religion in our classes but because of the concern of other religions, which I understand, they made the kids grow up with less knowledge of religion.
Kids are the most innocent in the world, maybe we should teach every kid about different religions and the kids can chose their own.
I think through kids we can teach them about religion. Education is a big part. Religion is a subject I like to talk about all the time. When I came to America I was 25 years old. I thought the only religion in the world was Catholicism. I didn’t know there was Jewish, Muslim, Mormon, Buddhist etc. I was shocked. I was ignorant, too, in a religious point of view. If you teach kids than it would be a much better world.
RM: Every religion has a perspective on heaven. What is that in your perspective and perspective of your religion?
BS: Heaven is a blue sky with flowers and angels around you and God sitting on the throne keeping an eye on all of us–St. Peter at the door with the key. When you are in heaven you see the people you always love. And they are the first ones to welcome you at the door when you walk in, with peace, love and music. That is it. That is what heaven is all about: no war, no fighting, and no people starving. That is beautiful. I am dying to go there. I have to wait, but I want to go there first class, one way, no stop.
RM: What do you consider is the greatest gift in life?
BS: I think the biggest gift is faith. Without faith you have nothing to grab when you need it. When you have nothing to grab when you need it, that’s bad. When you have faith you can grab onto it to go forward.
I have a great mom. She is an amazing mom. Without faith I would not have loved my mom the same way. She didn’t push us to be religious. Didn’t force us to go to mass. She made us do it without forcing us. We grew up with faith. She knew that with love, faith would come to us too, which is beautiful.
RM: If you could ask God one question, what would it be?
BS: Why don’t you come back? Why don’t you come down, we need you. I want you to come back here on earth. Send another son if he has to. We need him more than ever.
RM: What do you think is your role in this world?
BS: I am inspiring the children, but also I am inspiring those around me by doing good. When you turn on the TV and see Bruno, you see a good man cooking pasta and helping families. But if you turn on the TV and you see people killing each other, than that becomes an influence. I am inspiring good to people around the world.