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San Francisco Chefs' Best Kept Secret is a High School Spanish Teacher

Updated: Aug 23, 2023

It’s not just Spanish.

When one chef gets a hold of something cool, inevitably other chefs will be sniffing it out too. And in San Francisco, they are sniffing Dino.

Though not a smokey, exotic spice, or psychedelic new fruit, the towering, witty linguist, Dino "Merdardo" Rosso, with his long, wiry ZZ top style beard, is in fact the secret of San Francisco chefs, and does seem to have that special something that has chefs whispering.

The Chef Whisperer.

Capable of putting even the grittiest cook at ease, Dino is a high school Spanish teacher, and the creator of Lingo, a Spanish-English language curriculum he designed just for restaurants. A translator for staff meetings, a liaison for hirings and firings, or teaching a course, Dino is unafraid to connect with students in a creative way. And his sometimes unorthodox methods are a total hit. On a recent post on Facebook Dino chirped that he had been sharing friends' text messages in Spanish to his high school Spanish class. Both sides seemed to be thrilled.

From the FoH to the BoH.

A strong crew needs to run like clockwork, from the front of the house (FoH) to the back of the house (BoH). Things can get tricky with hirings and firings and nobody wants to sacrifice talent for a misunderstanding or a lack of being able to communicate critical information.

Generations from Central and South America have filled restaurants in the U.S. where not only Spanish, but a multitude of languages and dialects are spoken. Nowadays, if you want to have full control of your kitchen, at a minimum, Spanish and English are a must.

Then the police arrived.

After working exclusively with chefs and restaurants like 4505 Meats and Tacolicious, the San Francisco Police and the Fire department got word and have now contracted Dino and his team at Lingo to teach Spanish and English. Lingo adds "firefighters and the police force to an already long list of teachers, hotels, and stores, now with an eye north to wineries and agriculture, where the need is especially pronounced."

The secret ingredient.

Dino admits, "Language learning as an adult can be tough, you really have to set your ego aside and be willing to start with the basics."

"Language learning as an adult can be tough, you really have to set your ego aside and be willing to start with the basics."

So what is Dino's secret, being that the kitchen is not exactly known for its lack of ego, per sé? It's the approach. And maybe the beard. People today are curious and thanks to the almighty Internet, we have every way to explore, if we know where to look. Dino's ability to tap into that curiosity, along with a genuine interest in connecting people is what caught the hearts of SF chefs. And while we pray that avocado toast and matcha-everything go out of style sooner than later, authenticity, dedication, and hard work are always in season.


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