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MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. – Growing up in a Sicilian household, Western Federal Credit Union CEO John Bommarito says he learned the psychology as well as the technique of cooking. “Cooking was a special way of showing those you’re close to how much you care about them,” he says. “I guess that’s what I enjoy about cooking the most – those I cook for really enjoy the food but also feel special because I take the time to do it for them.” Bommarito doesn’t restrict that philosophy to his family or friends at home. Walk through WFCU at the right time and the HVAC system will broadcast the menu all the way from the kitchen. Bommarito says he picks dates when the majority of staff is around to help prepare the meal, eat and enjoy it, and pitch in to clean up afterward. “Without a doubt the biggest disaster is the mess I leave behind,” Bommarito confesses. Time was tight when WFCU went through a merger and platform conversion with TRW Systems FCU. But even then, during the actual conversion weekend, board members were recruited to prepare three meals a day all weekend. “The menu ranged from a homemade scratch pizza bar to a complete Italian dinner with what seemed to be 500 homemade meatballs to a full barbeque with different types of smoked ribs, chicken and all the trimmings,” Bommarito recalls. Even with all that cooking, it isn’t always necessary for Bommarito to make a trip to the store to shop for ingredients. There are 12 fruit trees and a large vegetable garden on the credit union property. Four or five volunteers help care for it all. The kitchen is equipped with large Sub-Zero refrigerators and freezer lockers. Over the years, board members have also provided salmon, halibut and fresh tuna from their fishing trips. Bommarito says he’ll cook pretty much what the staff or family wants. However, “Growing up in a Sicilian household you learn to enjoy a diverse type of cooking that incorporates pastas with all types of fresh vegetables, fish, garlic-infused meats. It seems you learn how to put a pot of sauce on before swinging a bat or throwing a ball.” -

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