Meet Bella Piccolina
…Imagination, inspiration, I introduce you to “Bella Piccolina.” An adventurous, curious, smart girl who is fearless in the kitchen. Although “Piccolina” means “little” in Italian, her ideas and creativity are larger than life! This big thinker and fearless home cook will share her creativity and inspiration with you, not only through recipes that will feed your appetite but also inspiration that will feed your mind and soul at any age. Bella Piccolina is for the ‘young at heart’ as she reminds us all to “slow down” in a world that is moving much to fast even for simple home cooked meals to be enjoyed over conversation while connecting and sitting around a table.
As a young child, I not only remember eating and watching my parents cook but as I grew older, I found myself discovering my own cooking passions coming to life after I challenged myself to cooking course in Umbria, Italy. While in Italy, I discovered how to embrace the culture, food and appreciate how small the world truly is when we take some time to embrace it through the five senses. I remember a hot, humid day in July, walking through a garden in Umbria, Italy inhaling fresh basil and “slowing down” to capture real-life moments while “sharing” tradition with locals. That same day, I sipped my espresso at a local cafe while hearing the sound of mopeds zip through the cobblestone roads and clothes hanging from the windows above to dry. Directly in front of me, was a child that was overlooking the gelato stand, looking endlessly at the chocolate gelato as if his entire world depended on it. At that moment, it clicked! I realized, that my life too, depended on that gelato as I thought to myself, I cannot go another day not sharing my love and passion for food with the universe, which is why…at that moment I began writing and creating the vision for the character, beyond her years…. Bella Piccolina. I also remember my wise and kind Italian late-grandfather “Nonno” calling me “Bella Piccolina” as a child meaning, “beautiful, little girl” as we would walk through the garden off of Atwells Avenue in Providence, Rhode Island and he would inspire, educate and with creativity show me how a tomato grows from the earth’s soil and ripens in time with patience, close attention and care. He taught me how to appreciate food, what the food represents from the ingredients to the finished meal, and how to enjoy conversation around a table together with family and friends.
I remember being called Daniela Mortadella and Daniela Mozzarella in elementary school …maybe that is why today, I can not stop talking about cooking and food art. My mom always told me not to play with my food at the dinner table, and because I did, it has led me to where I am today. I have a deep appreciation for CUISINE, specifically Traditional European Cuisine, not only writing about cuisine, but eating and developing my own home cooking techniques while taking a journey to get to my final plate in which I can call them my “own masterpiece and art.” I have a natural love for not only Italy (being first generation American and growing up speaking Italian) but promoting and preserving the Italian heritage … its fascinating language, culture, traditions, architecture, landscape and FOOD. I earned my Bachelors in Business Administration from Pace University in New York City (One of my favorite cities in the world!) double majoring in International Management (concentration: Europe) and Marketing (concentration: Advertising and Promotions) and a Minor in Italian Studies. I always kept Europe in my academia because it was the foundation of my family ancestry and I always found it interesting and very important to me. Also, I always admired the food from Europe and New York City taught me how to expand this passion for cuisine by introducing me to “street meat”, local mom and pop authentic restaurants, to cultural festivals in Union Square! My tastebuds got diversified and so did my passion for the industry.
My advice to a home cook is, be fearless in the kitchen and DO NOT give up. The world is your oyster, do not give up!
You will never reach your goal unless you use your imagination, it is your own vision, own it and don’t be afraid to call it yours.
Why I Am Food
I first began eating around a table with my family and friends. Pasta was and still is my favorite. Then, I began experimenting in the kitchen. Fearlessly, I began making mistakes, and learning from them while trying new things. I asked family and friends to try my grub. They left fully satisfied, with not only full stomachs but smiling faces. This inspired me. I then began taking some (many!) photos of my food-art. Followed by my food-inspired hash-tags and diving into every food-related thought and comment on social media. Where there was food lingo being shared, I, too needed to feel a part of that world, MY world. Gastronomy.
I often reflect on what the food represents, what it means to me. How it not only fills a stomach but creates a smile. How it engages people to come together to share ideas and converse. The food, brings people to a moment in time, a memory. I came to this realization and believed, I AM food. No question about it, Period.
I began writing as a form of expression that led me to naturally create “a kid-like city” (a majestic palace!) called, “KIDCINA” (“Cucina” in Italian means “kitchen”) designed for “the kid at heart” to develop, foster, learn and enjoy the present moments life gives us (no matter your age!) through the five senses that are often found through cooking and food.
In my 20’s and I admit proudly, I have a heart of a kid – energetic, fearless and ambitious! This being the main inspiration in creating the character Bella Piccolina, an adventurous, curious and fearless young girl ready to take on the kitchen! My vision for this character, Bella Piccolina is not intended to only be read and appreciated by children but also adults of all ages that I hope to inspire through my passion for cooking and food through “food-spiration.”
Adults, too may sometimes need a gentle reminder that the sky is the limit and no dream is impossible. I always think Michelangelo did not paint the Sistine Chapel in a day and Rome, was not built over night. Julia Child, beloved author, TV personality, American Chef, dropped a few ingredients in the kitchen, while she made her classic and memorable mark. She once said,
“This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook- try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!”– Julia Child, My Life in France
These exceptionally passionate and inspiring people in time, “slowed down” and let their passions guide them while making their dreams a reality. I believe that no dream is too big and I’ve always said no kitchen I’ll ever cook in will ever be too small. My dishes will have huge impacts because there is a journey on getting to the final dish which I call my own “masterpiece.” Both opportunities and challenges in life will present themselves and it is up to you to steer your life in the direction you choose to live, no matter what age you may be or what obstacle may be in your path.
Peace, Love, Gelato,