Meet Chef John Haas of M’Tucci’s Italian and the Gourmet Life of His Retriever, Manny
We interviewed John Haas, Company Chef & Managing Partner at M’Tucci’s Restaurants in Albuquerque, New Mexico. See how his Retriever has been a constant in his whirlwind life, and some of the gourmet meals this very lucky chef’s dog has enjoyed.
Edible Communities: Tell us about M'tucci's. What's the vision, and how did it get started?
John Haas: Our vision for M’tucci’s was to create a great Italian restaurant that offered exceptional quality, exceptional value, and comfortable environment. We also wanted to create great jobs for great people and give them a workplace where they feel like they can succeed. Jeff Spiegel, Katie Gardner, and I set out to accomplish that goal in 2013 with our original restaurant, M’tucci’s Italian. Since then, we’ve added 5 extremely high-character and talented operating partners: Sherri Rivenburgh (Financial Controller), Austin Leard (Brand Manager), Chris O’Sickey (Chef de Cuisine at Italian), Cory Gray (Executive Chef at Market), and Shawn Cronin (Sous Chef at Market). We now find ourselves on the verge of having 4 businesses filled with amazing co-workers, guests, and offering what we believe to be an unbeatable experience.
Edible: And you have a dog! How did you end up with him, and how does he inspire you?
John: My dog’s name is Manny. He is a Chesapeake Bay Retriever that I got from a friend who grew up in South Dakota. Manny was the son of a state champion hunting dog that belonged to their neighbor. The only issue is that the father wasn’t who it was supposed to be and didn’t have papers. Since they couldn’t sell the liter, they offered the pups to their friends. At the time, I lived in Iowa and was preparing to move to Albuquerque. To make a long story short, he was 5 weeks old and could fit in the palm of my hand. Now he is 8 years old, 105 lbs, and has shared almost every day of my life and all experiences with me. Nearly everything has changed in my life since I lived in Iowa, but Manny is still there every morning I wake up, wagging his tail.
Edible: What do you and Manny do for fun? What's his perfect day?
John: We used to go for hikes or to the dog park a lot more. As he has gotten older and I’ve got a little busier, our typical activities involve brisk walks in the morning and smashing tennis balls in the back yard with a tennis racket. He has a pretty nice life of chewing raw hides, laying around in dog beds, and running around the house with my daughter Kaylie (who is 5). I love seeing the way they get along and interact. As she has grown up, he has certainly started see her in a different light.
Edible: How does your work influence how you think about your pet's health, diet, & happiness?
John: As far his diet, he loves fruit, vegetables, and of course any red meat. I’ve always been someone that likes to share nice things with people and I am certainly guilty of carrying that over to him. My philosophy has always been try to enjoy the simple things, eat great food, and keep yourself surrounded by good people. It seems as though Manny has taken to that lifestyle in spades.