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 it 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.

While working on his MBA, he was invited to a party by a good friend, and there met Deborah Jones. Ivo drove her home, but forgot to get her number. He searched the phone book, but couldn’t find her. He remembered she worked at Eaton’s, so off he set in an effort to find her. He did and they went on a date. A week later, Ivo proposed, but he was turned down. He proposed several more times over the next six months, and finally Deb said yes. The happy couple were married in 1978, and three years later they moved to Toronto where they raised their two girls.