Interview with Daniele Macuglia (@daniele.macuglia)

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Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path? 

I have always wanted to bring people something different, and I decided to start collaborating with a celebrity chef to recreate dishes around the time of Leonardo da Vinci. I am a physicist and a historian of science from the University of Chicago and I have always loved Leonardo. Since 2017, I work with TV personality and celebrity chef Francesco Bellissimo (@bellissimoyoshi) to recreate forgotten dishes of Italian history, both Renaissance and Ancient Roman. Together, we have organized a variety of programs, especially in the United States and Japan, and we have collaborated with universities, consulates, and cultural institutes around the world.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started doing this? 

It was in Tokyo, at the Italian Cultural Institute, in front of 500 people. We were talking about Leonardo’s “Last Supper,” and people got super interested in the subject, asking us a lot of very specific questions… from the way of producing knives in Leonardo’s times to our own ideas about how the fish dish depicted in Leonardo’s mural painting might have been prepared in that particular instance. Japanese people are indeed very interested in high-quality knives and in fish dishes, so it was very interesting to see how they read and interpreted the Last Supper from their own cultural perspective, asking us questions that no one asked us before.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”? 

It is important to find something you are truly passionate about and try to offer people something different, something you may be the only person to deliver in that specific way. If you do something you genuinely like, and you try to create something new out of it, it is less likely to burn out.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story? 

I had a great mentor at the University of Chicago, who inspired me to follow my inclinations and look for cross-cultural collaborations. He was an influential physicist who greatly contributed to the sciences. His name was Leo Kadanoff and he always encouraged me to make connections among different disciplines, to ask for help when I need it, and he taught me how to efficiently work in a diversified team of skilled people.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? 

Yes. In the cuisine project I am developing with chef Bellissimo we always try to inspire people, making them understand that history is a living part of our human experience. In it, we can find good ideas to improve our lives, develop various interests to cultivate, create things, and give a lot of sense to our time.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life? 

“Above all, don’t fear difficult moments. The best comes from them.” By Rita Levi-Montalcini

How can our readers follow you on social media? 

They can check my page and my stories. Now, with the coronavirus emergency, we slowed down a bit because we cannot easily organize public programs like we have been doing… but we will be back soon!

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