A little something about...

“It's always been my philosophy to keep my Italian traditions alive and share my experience with those around me, no matter how far I may live from Italy!”

San Pietro Vernotico in the province of Brindisi

Giuseppina Massari was born in 1964 in the southern Italian town of San Pietro Vernotico, the southernmost town in the province of Brindisi. She grew up in the midst of grape vines and artichoke fields in one of Italy's most important agricultural regions. She started learning how to cook the old fashioned way at an early age, helping her mother and aunts prepare large family meals from the most natural ingredients.

At age seventeen, Giuseppina (or Giusy - pronounced "joozy") moved north to a small town on the shores of Lake Garda, in the province of Verona, to work in a restaurant owned by her mother's family. It was there that she refined her culinary skills and mastered the northern Italian style of cooking, becoming an expert in Italian foods from a variety of influences.

Il Merlo (The Blackbird)

In the foothills of the Dolomite Mountains, nestled in the center of the Valpolicella, Soave and Bardolino wine regions, Giusy and her family ran one of the most well known restaurants on the lake, Il Merlo (The Blackbird). In 1991, she met an American Air Force Sergeant who was stationed in the nearby city of Vicenza. They married, had two children and lived in the Lake Garda area until 1999, when they moved to the city of San Juan Capistrano, California.

For the first couple of years in California, Giusy's cooking was mostly appreciated by family and friends. She eventually started a small business giving private lessons on traditional healthy Italian cooking, and is now frequently called upon to advise community mothers on how to prepare nutritional foods that children will enjoy eating. Giusy has also been a cooking instructor with the cities of San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano, and has taught students at Saddleback College as well.

“It's always been my philosophy to keep my Italian traditions alive and share my experience with those around me, no matter how far I may live from Italy,” says Giusy. “I've found that the most enjoyable way to do that is by preparing meals that are based on the natural foods of my home country. My husband and children sure don't seem to mind!”

In addition to being a full time mother, Giusy finds time to give her now famous cooking lessons, prepares her all natural sauces and does light catering for groups of twenty or less.