Author's Notes: Years ago, when I first came up with the idea for Mixing It Up and scribbled down some notes about the characters, the male chef who was going to be the heroine's antagonist was Russian! I even had a name for the character—Alek Guznichev, but when I started writing the book, I quickly realized I couldn't do much with Russian food. There are only so many creative variations on Stroganoff and borscht! I debated other cuisines and finally decided that Italian was the best way to go because there's always been a rivalry between Italy and France, and the rustic fare from the former is a more organic contrast to the elegant French food Cecily favors.
I have to say that Dante cracked me up more than any character I've ever written. He's just so conceited and impressed with himself, and his ego is constantly fed by the reactions he receives from every woman he comes into contact with. He's so used to being fawned over and praised that he can't even take Cecily's dislike of him seriously and thinks she secretly has the hots for him, because why wouldn't she? She's seen him, right? ;)
Quotes: "Life ees too short to restrict yourself. Food, wine, love—theese are the theengs that make-a life worth liveeng."
"Passion, eet ees positive; eet drives you and those around you to be better."
"You should treat-a the risotto like you would a woman. Give eet all your love and attention; make eet feel like there ees nothing more important to you. For eighteen to twenty minutes anyway."
Casting: This is a total no-brainer for me. Justin Baldoni of Jane the Virgin fame was the actor I pictured the whole time I was writing Dante. He's half-Italian; he's got charisma to spare and he can play seductive, smarmy, and arrogant, all while still being very appealing. (I am not going to lie. Flashbacks to Bad Boy Rafael on Jane are my favorite!) So, yeah, if Mixing It Up is ever turned into a movie or TV show, Justin will be the first actor I'll tell the casting director to call. No audition necessary! ;)