Thursday Speaker Luncheons


Thursday, October 4, 2018
“From North Beach to the Hindu Kush: A Correspondent’s Journey”
Mike Cerre, TV Correspondent

PBS News Hour Special Correspondent Mike Cerre shares personal stories and professional insights from his more than forty years of reporting and documentary productions around the globe. It all started with a lively debate in the Dolphin Club’s sauna. From his initial reporting in the Bay Area for KRON to crisscrossing the country for ABC Good Morning America and his embedded reporting in Iraq and Afghanistan for ABC News, Mike’s latest series of reports, appropriately called “Nextracks,” focuses on one of the most foreboding and mysterious subjects of his career which many Il Cenacolo members should be able to relate to—what’s next for boomers given the new social, economic and retirement paradigms. (There will be video, but no quiz.)

Mike Cerre, an Emmy Award-winning network news correspondent and documentary producer, is also the Executive Producer of GLOBE TV, a Sausalito-based global communications and production company.

Formerly an ABC News Correspondent and embedded reporter in Iraq and Afghanistan for ABC News Nightline, he is currently a San Francisco based PBS News Hour Special Correspondent specializing in foreign affairs and defense coverage. His GLOBE TV company produces strategic communications projects for Fortune 500 companies, non-profits and programming for major networks including CNBC, CNN, Discovery, A&E, National Geographic, BBC and NHK.

A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, he served as a Marine officer in Vietnam before relocating from his native Midwest to his adopted home in the San Francisco Bay Area. He and his wife Gina, two daughters and three grandsons live in Sausalito.


Thursday, October 11, 2018
“The Capture of the U-505: A Legion of Heroes”
Robert McLaughlin, Author

The capture of the German U-505 was one of the most extraordinary stories to emerge from the Battle of the Atlantic in WWII. The U-505 was the first enemy man-of-war to be captured on the high seas since the capture of the British brig, HMS Nautilus, in the War of 1812. Robert McLaughlin’s book follows Captain Daniel V. Gallery, USN, a naval aviator and master of anti-submarine warfare, in his commands of PBY Squadrons VP-73, VP-84 and Hunter Killer Task Group 22.3. Gallery was determined to capture a German U-Boat on the surface and salvage the intelligence prizes. The U-505 was forced to the surface by HKTG 22.3 on June 4,1944 and captured. The book is a tribute to the courageous heroes, civilian and military, men and women who employed ingenious methods to counter enemy intelligence and tactics and who exhibited amazing bravery in risking their lives to defeat the enemies of the free world during the Battle of the Atlantic

The author describes himself as a patriot. He served in the United States Marine Corps from 1955 to 1957. He had a successful business career: he was the CEO of two NYSE companies and served on the Board of Directors of three public companies and two private companies. Robert and Kathie, his wife of sixty-one years, reside in Tiburon, California.


Thursday, October 18, 2018
“La Dolce Vita University: An Unconventional Guide to Italian Culture from A-Z”
Carla Gambescia, Author

What is it about Italy? Cultural superpower yet merely a mountainous Mediterranean peninsula, Italy has exerted an outsized force on the world, Western civilization and the popular imagination over the course of millennia. Her book is a unique lifestyle compendium of all things Italian: food, wine, history, architecture, art, style, anecdotes, attitude. In it Carla explores the special alchemy of Italy and the “cultural DNA” that has made Italy not only so influential but also so beloved. Even the most sophisticated Italophile will discover fascinating new facts and insights.

Carla’s passion for Italy began early: with her mother’s love of the Renaissance masters and her father’s discourses on Italian geniuses of every calling. In the ensuing decades, she’s written about and toured every region of Italy on foot or by bicycle. Carla conceived and co-led the Giro del Gelato bicycle tour which won OUTSIDE Magazine’s “Best Trip in Western Europe,” and for nearly a decade she owned and operated Via Vanti! Restaurant & Gelateria in Mount Kisco, New York. Via Vanti! won plaudits for its innovative Italian cuisine, extraordinary gelato (named “Best Gelato Shop in New York”) and ongoing program of culinary and cultural events.

Carla was born and raised in South Philadelphia and is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the Wharton School of Finance.


Thursday, October 25, 2018
“La Piccola Roma in Eritrea”
Joe Casalaina

Eritrea was one of the Italian colonies in Africa from the 1890 to 1941. The Italians used the capital city of Asmara to experiment with radical new architectural designs. By the late 1930s, Asmara was called Piccola Roma (Little Rome). Despite World War II and the 25 years of the Eritrean War of Independence from Ethiopia, today more than 400 buildings are of Italian origin, and many shops still have Italian names (e.g., Bar Vittoria, Pasticceria Moderna, Casa del Formaggio, Cinema Impero and Ferramenta). Joe Casalaina who was born in Asmara and whose family was in Asmara since 1916 will talk briefly about the history of the Italian colony and will show two short documentaries filmed by RAI about the architecture of Asmara and the Italian influence in the current Eritrean cuisine.

Joe’s family was forced to escape Asmara in 1948 and returned to Augusta, Sicily. In 1955 they were able to obtain a war refugee visa and settled in Brooklyn, New York. Joe worked for 40 years for Metropolitan Life Insurance starting in the “brand new” field of computers. He and his wife moved to Rossmoor, Walnut Creek from Princeton, New Jersey seven years ago to be near their son and his family who live in San Francisco.