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Here's Looking at You, Kid!

“I believe that you’ll find tonight’s celebration uplifting and hopeful,” said Pat Harrison, CEO of CPB and Gala Chair while welcoming more than 4K guests to a virtual gala celebrating NIAF’s 45th Anniversary honoring Dr. Anthony Fauci with the Leonardo DaVinci award for leadership in health and science.

Prior to the event, Harrison sat down for an exclusive interview with Dr. Fauci, tracing their Brooklyn roots and the significance of the Italian culture and community while reminiscing about their shared heritage.

Q: “How did growing up Italian in Brooklyn shape your childhood?”

A: “I’m sure anyone who’s had that shared experience with me knows it was a very nurturing and embracing atmosphere. The entire neighborhood was your family. So that to me had a great influence on me because I have always been a people person caring about people. And that was one of the things that drove me into medicine as a profession. Ever since I was a child, as long as I could possibly remember, it was always people caring about each other. And that is the hallmark of the Italian American experience.”

Q: “I was thinking about this in light of what we’re all going through today and the Jesuits teach that we should live with enthusiasm, with joy, with gusto. And that’s very much part of the Italian culture, but how can we really do this at a time of great peril and anxiety? I think a lot of people want to know what sustains you.”

A: “What sustains me Pat is the importance and the significance of the problem that I’m addressing. Right now the end is not necessarily insight in the middle of a historic pandemic, the likes of which we haven’t seen in 102 years since 1918. You know that getting worn out, getting burned out, getting too tired to go any further is not an option. I mean, that’s just it.That’s not in the cards, no matter how many hours you work, no matter how worn out you feel, you just got to keep going because the problem is of such a magnitude. You just can’t let it get ahead of you.”

Dr. Fauci has been going to the NIAF Gala for years so Pat asked him why. “Is it for the pasta?”

A: “The pasta is good. You’ve got to say that. And it’s amazing. I can’t imagine how we do it every year, where you have so many people in a room and it’s always al dente. I can’t figure that out how they did that. Some people can’t do it for four people, but when you do it for that number of people, well it’s because of the spirit and the old friends.”

Enter Mary Ann Esposito of Ciao Italia who made Fettucine Fauci with Fresh Mushrooms i.e. Fettucine Fauci ai Funghi Freschi and encouraged guests to prepare in advance and enjoy while watching the gala. Get the recipe here.

The evening’s hosts were Maria Bartiromo, NIAF Board Member, two-time Emmy Award winner, and anchor of Mornings with Maria and Maria Bartiromo’s Wall Street on Fox Business Network, and Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo on Fox News Channel; and Joe Piscopo, NIAF celebrity Ambassador and radio show host.