Kurt Hildebrand

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March 1, 2013
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Minden resident honored for long career

Minden's Dominic Tanzi has lots of medals. As a Marine in World War II, he served from 1939 to 1945 and fought in battles ranging across the Pacific.

But recently he received a medal for his service to the food and beverage industry in the years since the war ended.

Tanzi received the 2012 Antonin Careme medal, which is named after a 19th Century Parisan chef, from the Chef's Association of the Pacific Coast.

Before he came to Lake Tahoe, Tanzi did a lot of things including teaching, and running officers clubs. He owned a restaurant in San Carlos for many years.

"Every year I sent the family up to the Lake," he said. "One day the doctor told me I was working too much. So I sold the business and moved up to Tahoe."

He said he didn't do too much when he arrived, he built a few houses, before feeling the need to get back into the game.

"I've kept busy all my life," he said. "I don't like numbers. Age is just a number. It doesn't mean anything to me."

The High Sierra was hiring, but they were intimidated by his resume.

"They said I was overqualified," he said. "When you open a new establishment, you hire the most qualified people you can, pick their brains, and then let them go if they don't work out."

Tanzi went down the street and talked to Harvey Gross, who was hiring, and began a long relationship. Tanzi worked his way up to vice president of hotel services and food and beverage director in 1977.

"I was vice president of everything, food, the hotel, everything but the casino," he said.

Tanzi moved from the Lake to his home in Winhaven in the mid-1990s, and retired from Harvey's a decade later, but that didn't mean he stopped working.

Now he serves as a sort of concierge for this part of the country.

"People are always calling me because I have so many connections all over the world," he said. "Some guys are coming from Switzerland, I'm heading up a golf tournament for them. I'll put them wherever they want to go. I do a little bit of everything, If someone wants to know how to do something, they give me a call. I like to help people."

Tanzi said the key to his long life is not to worry about things that are beyond his control.

"Worry kills more people than anything else," he said. "People become overly concerned about things they can't do anything about."

His biggest reward during his career has been helping people advance in the industry.

"One of my long suits was the ability to spot someone who had talent and push them ahead into a position that they would like," he said.

Master sommelier Fred Dane was honored at the banquet where Tanzi received his award.

"Fred Dane, one of the great sommeliers in the country, said, 'I want all of you to know the man that started me on my career was Dominic Tanzi, who put me to work at the old Top of the Wheel at age 16. Then he told me to get out of here and go to school.' That was as good as the award they gave me."

Tanzi celebrated his 90th birthday on Feb. 22 and on Saturday 200 people are expected to honor him at the Peppermill on Saturday.

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The Record Courier Updated Mar 4, 2013 03:50PM Published Mar 1, 2013 09:26PM Copyright 2013 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.