Donatella was born and raised in the Lazio region of Italy. In 1993 she moved to the USA leaving all of her family and friends behind. At first her new life with her husband in Akron, Ohio was not easy; she felt very lonely and out of place. It took her quite some time to familiarize herself with the new cultural aspects and traditions. Lonely and with plenty of time on her hands, she started cooking for her friends and family, whose praises and compliments convinced her to start her career as a private chef. She has been a private chef and a culinary instructor for over a decade.
Her passion for food goes back to her childhood, when she spent hours watching her grandmother and mother cooking huge meals for many occasions. "On Sunday, it was always homemade fettuccine with meat sauce. I can still see my grandmother hanging huge disks of pasta on wooden sticks everywhere. My mom was in charge of the sauce that was a blend of ground beef, ground pork and chicken livers. I can still smell it if I close my eyes!"
Donatella never cooked when she was a child and her mother left only a few recipes. "She was the typical Italian; making everything without measuring or weighing any ingredients." Her memories and interviews of relatives and friends helped her retrieve a vast amount of useful information, flavors and recipes. "My food will never be like my mom's. She was unbelievable, but when I can get quite close to her cooking I am extremely happy."
She is a self-taught chef like her two nephews: Luca De Santis, head chef at Gustavino's in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and Andrea Cofini, chef in Rome, Italy. "In my family everyone loves to cook and eat, and we do everything from appetizers to desserts."
Donatella's cuisine is a fusion of Central, Northern (Veneto) and Neapolitan dishes. She is faithful to some traditional recipes: Cotolette di Abbacchio (lamb chops), Risotto ai Funghi (mushroom risotto), Amatriciana Sauce, and CrÃªpes Soup; however she enjoys personalizing others to bring them to the next level, namely Swordfish Pasticcio, Artichoke Cakes, and Turkey Roulade. She has worked with several Italian associations, above all the Italian Center and Le Radici in Akron, Ohio, for whom she has provided authentic Italian experiences and received many compliments. "It is always scary to cook for Italian associations or groups," she says, "because they are going to be very critical of whatever you do!" In her experiences though, she received only praises that made her extremely happy. "It was like passing an exam," she said.
She firmly believes that the aim of cooking is to make people happy, because a beautiful table, good wine, company, and food are synonymous of happiness and joy. "Italians spend hours at the table eating and talking. Any food gathering is a feast for the palate but also a social event." As a chef, she is deeply committed to deliver a real Italian experience with the best Italian ingredients and results. This is her philosophy and what she does best.
When she is not behind burners, she is teaching Italian at Kent State University or at The University of Akron. She is a professor with a passion for food that she conveys to her students. "I wish I could have cooking classes for them, in Italian of course! That would be a fun and memorable experience; something to consider!"
For further information about Chef Donatella, please visit her website at: http://www.donatellasprivatechefservices.com