Remembering Valter

Several years ago, as Chocolot was starting to really get some traction, we considered opening a brick and mortar location in Salt Lake. My mom and I stopped by the office of Ken Milo, a local architect and at the time the owner of Cucina Toscana restaurant and some nearby commercial spots.

As we walked through the old Caputo’s location, as well as the basement of Cucina Toscana, Ken introduced us to a gregarious Italian named Valter. Part Einstein, part Mr. Bean, and part Doc Brown.

It was so long ago that I don’t remember much of the conversation, but I remember him treating us like we were long-lost relatives, and wouldn’t let us leave until he showed us his newest project he was working on at the time: his gelateria.

In this humble basement sat several thousand dollars’ worth of stainless steel equipment, cranking out his gelato. He gladly scooped several different flavors and insisted we try them and tell him what we thought.

I remember being struck at the time by just how friendly this man was. It was nearly shocking to see someone as unguarded as Valter. As we continued our tour of the facilities, we said our goodbyes. Aftewards, I asked my mom how he knew Valter, because he was so friendly to her. “I’ve never met him before,” was her reply.

And that was it. For him, it was one of a million similar interactions he had over the years with his guests. But for me, it’s a very small interaction that has stuck with me for many, many years.

I’m sure most everyone is familiar with Maya Angelou’s wise words, in which she said “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Valter was this quote personified. The world would be a different place if we all acted a bit more like Valter.