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The Mag: Tell us about these last frenetic months
Michele Bendini : «We shot the series over the summer in June and July. Nobody knew what to expect, and when the show aired in December the viewing public really responded positively. MasterChef became a national hit after the second episode and has gotten an enormous amount of publicity support from the Sky network. I didn’t expect such a response. So far I have stayed grounded. I am lucky that in Città di Castello it doesn’t matter so much if you are on TV. But everywhere else I go people recognize me. I have to say I like it, otherwise I wouldn’t have participated.»
The Mag: What was it like on MasterChef Italia?
Michele Bendini : «I got to meet people whom I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. For two months, I lived in Milan with these complete strangers, sharing everything, and we became very close, very quickly. It would take a couple of years to create that kind of intimacy with people in a normal context. The human aspect of the experience is really exceptional, and I want to emphasize that. As for the cooking, I learned a lot. I grew up from that point of view. I also got to experience the television world which was brand new to me. It is very different from my day to day life. I liked it, I have to say, despite the stress and fatigue. You are under lot of pressure and the level of competition is high, as it should be when there is a real prize to win.»
The Mag: Where did you get your passion for cooking?
Michele Bendini : «From my family, my mother. We all love food and the experience of a good meal, but as a kid I found pleasure in watching my mom cook for us. When I was about 16 years old I started preparing a few things myself. During my University years I lived alone and started having fun experimenting. Fun is what cooking is all about for me, it is never a burden. It is about gathering with friends and it is a way to say something about yourself.»
The Mag: At any point in the show did you start wanting to show off?
Michele: «I was always pleased with my performance at every step, every challenge. Many people have asked me: – How could you do so much in just one hour? – The answer is that during that experience your mind is set on cooking, it is like a job and you are surrounded by people from whom you can learn. The real challenge was not only to cook, but to be competitive, especially during the pre-selection, in which you have to really expose yourself in order to be chosen for the show.»
The Mag: But you really think “the television industry” would suit you?
Michele Bendini : «Well, I am intrigued by the question! It may be that I won’t like “show business”. Honestly I don’t know it well enough to judge. I like my world and what I do. I can be very solitary sometimes, and I need to find refuge in nature as I am able to in our green valley.»
The Mag: You moved from the city to live in the countryside. Why?
Michele Bendini : «My work as a vet is so gratifying because it allows me to be outdoors and in nature. I specialize in horses and travel from client to client in my mobile medical office. Although my family is from the center of town, I have been very fortunate to build my personal and professional life more in the countryside.»
The Mag: How important is family in your life?
Michele Bendini : «Family is essential! also friends and work are fundamental to my happiness. But especially my family which gave me a solid foundation. I am very close to my parents and my sister. I am independent of course, and can be away from them for long periods of time, but it is they who fulfill my life, they inspired me without imposing anything on me. I have always been my own person and this is one of the gifts they allowed me.»
The Mag: Can you tell us a bit more about your background? After all you are a veterinarian, expert with horses, so passionate about cooking that you are a contestant on MasterChef!
Michele Bendini : «When I was at University in Perugia I had the dream of opening a small restaurant, for about thirty people. I would say to myself, “Maybe in a couple of years, I’ll have some money to do something on my own”. This idea has always been in my head, sometimes like a dream, other times like a realistic goal. There must be a reason why I have always liked making people happy with my food, I could be in this business.»
The Mag: Tell us something about your time at veterinary school.
Michele Bendini : «That was a wonderful time. I lived in Perugia for several years, even after graduating, and I am really bonded to that city as well to the Veterinarian University Department. I spent three intense years studying horse surgery. I fell in love with the profession and I often go back to the University for work. Apart from that, I met many other students who now are my colleges and friends.»
The Mag: So, now that we know you better, I have one last question: Should we call you Doctor or Chef Bendini?
Michele Bendini : «Let’s stick with Michele. But if I have to choose, I think I prefer Dottor Bendini.»
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