Friends and family describe Vince Scalamogna, Food and Beverage Director at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium as always on the go. And Vince described himself as a person who doesn’t sleep much as he’s always on the go, and sometimes going nowhere. To bring order and to help focus his mind, Vince makes lists. These vary from lists of people to call, lists of ideas, lists of things to do and more. Each day there’s a new list, and Vince said he can’t sleep until each task is crossed off.
Currently one of the most important lists that Vince has made involves his wedding. In 2014, he married a woman he met at the zoo. Siobhan works for a local vendor that supplies the soda sold at the zoo. The two became friends before they became a couple. Vince is 100% Italian and is also a first generation-born American. His wife is also a first generation-born American, but her heritage is Irish, (Siobhan’s last name is Mulkerrin). Being the first-born Americans in their family was some of the attraction the couple felt for each other as they share similar values and expectations. They celebrate their heritage by making trips back to the “old” country to visit family. In fact, several members of both families travelled from Ireland and Italy to attend the couple’s wedding and the reception at the PPG Aquarium at the zoo.
Vince’s mom immigrated to America when she was six or seven years old. After high school, she returned to Italy to visit family. Vince’s dad saw her in a small town and married her two weeks later. The couple has been married for 34 years. Vince has a brother and a sister who also live in the Pittsburgh area. His future in-laws met after they each immigrated to the United States. Interestingly, Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania claim both a strong Irish and Italian heritage, dating back to the 18th century.
Vince also keeps a list of projects to get done at his house. He likes to roll up his sleeves and get his hands dirty. Vince believes working with his hands offers him a way to think about life, as well as making mental lists. His father, who’s retired, likes to help his son with various home improvement projects. When he’s not completing home improvement projects, Vince is spending time with his family.
Vince started his zoo career when he was in high school. His first zoo job was in the gift shop where he quickly realized retail was not his forte. Vince then transferred to the zoo’s culinary operations where he worked while attending the University of Pittsburgh, one of the oldest institutions of higher education in the United States. Vince majored in business and economics, and after graduation, he worked for a local financial company as a stockbroker. After a year, he returned to the zoo to manage the food and beverage operations. He has been at the zoo for 18 years. Before Vince started working at the zoo, he was also a golf caddy. By caddying at a local country club, he received a break on his tuition at a local Catholic school. He quit because he was only five-feet tall and weighed about 90 pounds, so the golf bags were hard to carry. Fortunately, he experienced a growth spurt.
Vince’s lists of favorite things
Grilling is on his list of favorite things to do. Vince said he’ll spend hours marinating and prepping food to cook on a grill as a good marinade makes food tastier, juicier and healthier. He shared he gets angry when he’s bothered while cooking.
Also on that list of favorite things is reading. Vince reads the printed newspaper daily as he likes the feel of paper. He also reads books. He’s currently on a history kick and is reading about the Johnstown floods, which occurred in 1889 as well as 1936 and 1977. All these floods were catastrophic and thousands of people died. The book tells the story of these great tragedies and the triumphant recoveries.
A few of his other favorite things include eating pizza and watching sports. Vince said that he likes any type of pizza, to be eaten any time of day and anywhere. He added that he can make a pretty good pie, too. His favorite sport team is the Pittsburgh Penguins, a National Hockey League team that has won the Stanley Cup three times in their history. Vince said he knows that being a Pittsburgh native, he should be a football fan, but he likes hockey better.
His entertainment lists feature music played by the Foo Fighters and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Vince said cuts from these bands will always be on Vince’s play list. On his movie list, Vince puts Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, a 2006 American comedy, as one of his favorites. He thinks it’s hilarious, but his wife disagrees. Vince said he can quote the movie to himself and just crack up. He has watched it at least a dozen times as it’s one of those movies he knows will make him laugh and feel good. “I watch movies, so I don’t have to think,” he added. Vince’s favorite TV program is Breaking Bad, an American crime drama television series set in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It is the story of a struggling high school chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer at the beginning of the series. He turns to a life of crime in order to secure his family’s financial future before he dies.
On his list of places he’d like to most visit is not Italy or Ireland, but Alaska, the 49th state. Vince wants to visit the beautiful unspoiled Alaska with panoramic landscapes featuring water, mountains and glaciers.
Vince doesn’t have a list of things he values. But he’s starting one as he recently received a special present from one of his favorite nephews. This four-year-old recently gave his uncle a drawing that he crafted. He drew two things on the page: a Ninja turtle crying and his Uncle V smiling. His nephew even drew the sideburns that Vince has. Vince plans to frame this priceless work of art.
Yes, Vince likes to make lists, and he likes the satisfaction of crossing off the task listed. He claims lists help him remember what he has done, and what he has to do to get through another day.