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Officer wears many hats

LAPD veteran is thriving at airport. He also cooks a mean mac and cheese.

June 16, 2010|By Christopher Cadelago

But what went unnoticed was his work as the unit's expert on high-risk hostage negotiations, said Burbank Police Capt. Mike Albanese, a retired SWAT commander.

"He was a very effective negotiator in hostage-taking incidents and with folks who were on the threshold of killing themselves," Albanese said.

Massa also got to know Wolfgang Puck's team of chefs by setting up security of the Governor's Ball for the Academy Awards.

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"They asked me to come by and cook," Massa said. "And at first I said, 'No way.' It's very intimidating. You're talking five-star dining, and at that time I was a backyard burger flipper."

He took classes for a year, and when the chefs extended the next offer he agreed, whipping up 10 gallons of sauces in the back.

The next year, after receiving more formal training, he agreed to cook alongside seven executive chefs on the Oscar hotline, turning out 350 of Puck's classic baked potatoes in 45 minutes, each topped with crème fraiche and caviar.

He surprised everyone again after winning $25,000 on the Food Network's "Ultimate Recipe Showdown" with his gourmet macaroni and cheese.

"People often say, 'How do you do it,'" Massa said. "I say, from cop to cook, it's really no big deal."

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