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ON A RAINY winter’s morning, Bellevliet Road in Obs couldn’t feel further from Tuscany. But inside Lapo Magni’s home, the Moka pots are bubbling on the stove and an Italian feast is being prepared.

Lapo hails from Florence and first came to South Africa in 2010 to learn English, but somehow never moved back to Italy. “It’s been eight years and I’m still looking for a good deal,” he quips.

He has certainly been back home since then – most notably in 2013 when he won , an Italian television show and competitor to produced by Italian network RAI. With mystery baskets, high-profile guests and chef Davide Scabin (whose restaurant at that time held two Michelin stars) as host, the show put Lapo through his paces. “He was really intimidating and scary – and he didn’t like me at the start,” says Lapo of the judge. He recalls that once, while making gnocchi, he made a bit of a mess and received a tongue-lashing from Davide. “He said ‘We’re not playing Lego here!’ – but in the end he chose me.”

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