Cooking with Nonna….
In this episode of The Italian American Podcast, we speak with proud first generation Italian-American Rossella Rago from “Cooking with Nonna” about her cooking experiences throughout her life, and the true meaning behind them.
During this lively interview, Rossella tells the story of how her family relocated to New Jersey from her beloved Italian neighborhood in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, when she was young, but she wouldn’t stay there for long. At the age of 18 she moved back to Bensonhurst to be with her nonna. One day a joke by her father ended up leading to an amazing career opportunity, which is thriving today. Rosella explains the importance of nonnas in Italian culture and how her family’s support has catapulted her to success.
In our Stories Segment, we read a letter from Adam Kapaun-Piattoni, one of our listeners, about his grandfather’s death and how one person can have such a profound impact on a family.
“If your mother cooks Italian food, why should you go to a restaurant?” – Martin Scorsese
- “The sand in the hourglass is running out for the last generation of nonnas.” – Rossella Rago
- “Everybody who came here was looking for a better life.” – Rossella Rago on Italian immigrants
- “I have some chicken cutlets, I’ll bring them over.” – Rossella Rago on her #Italian mother feeding all of her non-Italian neighbors
- “I was the weird Italian kid with the nutella sandwich.” – Rossella Rago on growing up very Italian
- “You always feel too Italian for Americans, and too American for Italians.” – Rossella Rago on being a first generation Italian
- “I was really blessed with parents who never told me to be realistic.”- Rossella Rago
- “Those older Italians are not going to be here forever.” – Dolores Alfieri on Italian heritage
- “Every nonna has her own uniqueness that makes people smile.” – Rossella Rago
- “When you have your family 100% behind you, great things happen.” – Anthony Fasano
- “Dreams do not give up on people. People give up on their dreams.” – Rossella Rago
- “Enjoy your relatives while you have them as much as you possibly can.’’ – Anthony Fasano
About our guest…Rossella Rago from “Cooking with Nonna”
Rossella is the host of the online cooking show and food webisode series, “Cooking with Nonna” and the recent winner of the Food Network – 24 Hour Restaurant Battle – Battle Italiano. Rossella is a first generation Italian-American from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn where she was born into a family of culinary aficionados and food lovers. Her deeply rooted heritage finds its source in Mola di Bari located in the Puglia region of Italy, a small fishing village more commonly referred to simply as Mola, where her parents were born. Rossella spent most of her childhood in the kitchen with her maternal Grandmother Romana learning the long legacy of recipes passed down through the generations for centuries.
Both the passion for her parents’ native language and her experiences in high school propelled her to choose Italian as her concentration in college. In the spring of 2009 she graduated from St. John’s University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Italian Literature. She is fluent in both Italian and her native dialect of Mola di Bari. Rossella has also completed an intensive program at the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York.
Inspired by her love of food, her passion for entertaining and acting, as well as her love for her family and community, in 2009 Rosella launched the “Cooking with Nonna” show, which features recipes passed down throughout the generations that are simple to make, delicious, and rich in their history.
In addition to inspiring grandmothers from around the world to pass down their sacred recipes, entertaining audiences with her show, and popularizing authentic Italian cuisine, Rossella plans to raise awareness and promote healthy eating habits for young women everywhere. Her goal is to be a positive role model and inspire young women worldwide.
Anthony Fasano and Dolores Alfieri
Co-Hosts, The Italian American Podcast