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Ivo Finotti: Judging Tiramisu

There must be hundreds of organizations, groups, clubs or events, unknown to most of us, and recently I came across one that totally threw me for a loop. It is the World Tiramisu Competition, held in Treviso, Italy, the first week of November. Ordinarily this would not be something I would take much notice of, except one of the judges lives right here, in our own little town.

Ivo Finotti was selected from 7,000 applicants to become one of the prestigious judges in this year’s event. I asked Ivo why he felt he was selected and he attributed to his pitch, which really zeroed in on his roots, youth and traditions.

Ivo was born in the north of Italy, in Valle San Felice, a small village of 300 inhabitants, near the larger city of Rovereto. At an early age his parents decided to immigrate to Montreal (they had relatives there), and Ivo’s father, a marble cutter found work immediately.

“Our family is from Northern Italy, “Ivo explained. “So we couldn’t move into Little Italy in Montreal, as we didn’t belong. Instead we lived in Ahunstic, north of Montreal.”

During his stint at St. Pius X High School and obtaining his degree at Concordia, Ivo had an interesting series of part-time jobs. He worked at Hygrade Foods (now Maple Leaf) cleaning the place. “My hours were 11 to 7 [during the night]. It was disgusting, filthy work but the pay was amazing.” He smiled, as he relived his youthful days.

Another one of Ivo’s jobs was a peanut vendor in Montreal’s Jarry Park. The process is hilarious. “I would throw the bag of peanuts from 10 or 20 rows away. I was always on target, and as a kid you felt like a hero when you caught the bag. That was even more fun than eating the peanuts.” The reason for throwing the peanuts is to ensure they end up in the right hands.