He pursued his passion for food before being a chef was 'cool.'

In elementary school, Lorenzo Boni was the only boy to sign up for cooking classes.

“At the time, being a chef wasn’t cool like it is today,” Lorenzo remembers. “There was no Food Network or guest celebrities on TV.”

Becoming a chef wasn’t necessarily seen as a particularly lucrative profession either — but that wasn't what Lorenzo was motivated by.


Just like the rest of us who find our calling to do what we love, he was motivated by one thing: passion.

Have a great, happy and fun Sunday everyone out there! Ciao! #cheflife #colander #hat #passionforpasta

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He’d always spent Sunday mornings watching his mother make fresh tortellini or garganelli — pastas local to the Bologna region where they lived — and when the family came home from church, they’d all enjoy a delicious family meal made entirely from scratch.

Many Italian people out there will recognize this as the age-old tradition known as the, capital-letter, "Sunday Dinner. "

Instead of playing on a soccer team, Lorenzo helped his dad cook for the professional team he loved. This offered him the chance to meet his idols face-to-face.

He also helped his dad throw huge dinners for friends.

When he wasn’t helping out in his parents' kitchen, he was at his grandfather’s bakery, sneaking bites of warm pastries and other treats, as he watched them transform from dough to magic.

“I just really loved food and spending time with my family,” Lorenzo says.  

He went on to become the only boy in his family to attend culinary school.

His brothers became dentists and accountants.

And fueled by his deep-rooted passion for food, Lorenzo went on to have a highly successful career.  

He cooked in a number of Michelin-starred restaurants across Italy and eventually opening his own restaurant in Italy.

Chef Lorenzo Boni in the Barilla test kitchen in Chicago. Image via Barilla, used with permission.

And, today, he’s the executive chef at Barilla's North America test kitchen in Chicago, where he is in charge of all recipe development for North America.

Taste-tester may be a job we all joke about when we snatch a forkful off a friend's plate, but it's serious business in the real world.

Creating recipes for Barilla’s websites, social media accounts, and the quintessential back-of-the-box recipes we all love comes with serious responsibility.

Image via Barilla, used with permission.

“It’s so different every day,” he says. “When I had my restaurant, it was a very good business, but I wanted to be able to travel, to meet new people, new chefs. That’s what I missed.” Plus, he gets to develop recipes for passionate celebrities for the YouTube show "While the Water Boils" with Hannah Hart.

Chef Lorenzo Boni's spaghetti recipe with cherry tomatoes and basil. Image via Barilla, used with permission.

He also gets to teach kids how to cook, as his test kitchen has a series of cooking classes for children from disadvantaged neighborhoods.

"We have been working with different organizations with the goal of inspiring kids and their families to spend more time in the kitchen," he says. The goal is simple: teach them to cook healthier foods and encourage them "have meaningful time around the stove and the table with family and friends."

After all, it was this time in the kitchen with family that helped Lorenzo discover and fuel his passion — and now, he wants to share that joy with others too.

Image via Barilla, used with permission.

"I am happy I can share my love of food with American kids, just like my father and grandfather did with me," he says. "Those are memories that will stick with me forever."

Lorenzo has also mastered the art of professional food photography and he uses it to share his passion for food with an even wider audience (of all ages), including the Passion for Pasta audience online, as well as tons of Instagram followers.

When it comes to following your passion, Chef Lorenzo says it's important not to be distracted by specific, long-term goals.

What matters most is that what you do now.

"Follow what your heart is telling you to do. Just go for it."

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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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