Today I welcome cookbook author Maria Liberati to my blog. She is here to share to promote her cookbook series, The Basic Art of Italian Cooking.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born in Philadelphia, but have been fortunate to temporarily live for extended periods of time all over the USA and Canada and Italy. I am a writer, chef and entrepreneur. I conceived my book series title and my trademark, The Basic Art of Italian Cooking by Maria Liberati tm, because I wanted to put a part of my life into my work. After my grandparents passed away, I began studying more about their lives and our family and realizing the sacrifices they made to get to the USA from Italy. They really loved their families and their towns in Italy but had no choice but to come to the USA to find a better life and to find work.
So the book series, the trademark is somewhat a homage to my grandparents and my family and my culture and to share the foods and the places that they so loved and we still love!
I got my start in the culinary world through modeling which also afforded me the ability to get to Italy and learn about my family. While I was modeling in Italy a well known Italian painter asked to paint my portrait, his name is Sergio Terzi, but he goes by the moniker of Nerone. He has painted many famous Italians including Luciano Pavarotti, so it was really exciting that he chose to paint my portrait.
That involved being at his family farm in a little town in the region of Reggio-Emilia, where they produce the famous Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. His family is very involved in the cheese making process there and, while of course, no matter what type of work you do in Italy you always stop to eat at lunchtime, during my lunchtime meals there I became absolutely entranced by this cheese they produced there. I began studying the intricate process of how it was made by visiting the family’s farms and storage warehouses for the cheese. And I believe this awakened my dormant interest in the culinary arts. I used to go shopping at the Italian market in Philadelphia with my grandparents for Sunday meals and winemaking from when I was about 4 yrs old.so I know my grandparents gave me that culinary ‘bug’ and it grew as I was a teen when I would cook in the kitchen with my cousins,aunts, mom and grandparents all joining in to make a large Sunday dinner. So it was there I just took my culinary interest and knowledge for granted. All the things I learned with my grandparents and parents, I thought everyone knew how to make homemade lasagna or homemade tomato sauce.
After the portrait was painted, it was exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a short time, then all around the world, and then my culinary journey took flight. I decided to go to a culinary school in Italy and spent some time at my family’s farm in the mountains of Abruzzo where they made local wines and homemade bread. Eventually I was asked by some resorts in Italy to do cooking programs since I spoke both English and Italian, most people that take cooking classes in Italy are from other countries, so they usually speak English. And then I began writing about it.
In Italy, I began seeing food as not only just something to eat but also as more of an art, something literary. It is so connected to culture and history and family, and I wanted to put a book together that was not just a cookbook, since Italian food is about more than just food to eat, it is so attached to their culture and each ingredient usually has its’ own beautiful story to tell. So that is how I came up with the formula for my book series, a culinary travel series, with autobiographical stories that relate to the recipes and menus included.
And as the old saying goes to’ just do something that you love’ and the accolades will follow. I won the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in 2010 for my book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays and Special Occasions and Culinary Travel Blogger of the Year in 2013 by the NY Travel Writers’ Society
Please tell us about your current release.
The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: DaVinci Style is about the places in Italy where DaVinci lived while creating his masterpieces. Each chapter is devoted to a specific town or region he lived in stories about that place and recipes that originate from that place. Also included are specially translated food poetry written by DaVinci and in his notebook but included in my book in English.
Besides from being a genius in everything, he was a foodie, supported himself by being a waiter in Florence while in art school, then opening a short lived restaurant with his fellow art student Botticelli on the Ponte Vecchio in center of Florence. He was a wedding planner sometimes and he loved to think of food as he did his canvas. He believed there should be a balance in foods- never too much of one thing-balancing flavors and so much of the Mediterranean Diet is actually based on his beliefs.
How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?
Most of my books in The Basic Art of Italian Cooking book series has a lot of me in them, the autobiographical stories that in someway relate to the food, the recipes are recipes used for many events I have done and/or family events. When someone asks what sets my books apart from others-it is merely the fact that we are all a unique being in this world, and these books relate to my unique self. We all have unique selfs, and I think it is really important to discover and bring out that unique part of you, That is what makes you interesting, not that you can look like a famous celebrity or you can do the same thing someone else has done, but doing something that is unique to you. I think so many people today are afraid of their uniqueness, that others will think they are ‘weird’ or call them names or make fun of them. Yes that probably is true they will, but that is most likely because they don’t have the courage to bring out their own unique talents. God gave all of us something that is really unique to us, we are all our own masterpieces and if you don’t find out what your unique talent is or get to discover that, life becomes frustrating. You muddle around wondering why you are always so depressed and feel like you are looking for something. That is because your body needs to express itself and at the end of every day you should feel somewhat ‘spent’ but in a good way, that you have used your talent to the fullest.
That does not mean everyone has to quit their full time jobs and sit around trying to create, but use your talent as a hobby and then see how it develops or keep that as your hobby, a way to express yourself. And yes there will always be critics who try to discourage you or criticize anything artistic you may pursue, but that is most likely because they do not have the courage to get out of their comfort zone and express their talent- but it does not have to be something artistic it could be techie or someone that is great at business or anything that really adds to your life.
Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.
I will tell you 2.
My grandmother – named Maria Liberati – who came from a little town in Italy called Venafro (in the Molise region) loved to sing, she never got the chance to sing professionally,but when she emigrated to USA and lived in South Philadelphia she sang with the world famous opera singer Mario Lanza-who at that time was only about 12 yrs old, in an opera that was put on by an organization to raise funds for her town in Italy that had just had an earthquake.
**The other is that I consider one of my best friends my Cairn Terrier. She really helped me get through some terrible times in my life, I take her everywhere I can with me. She has taught me so much about compassion, and life and nature. I love being able to write because that means that I can be home with her and take breaks with her- take a short walk to clear my mind or toss a ball around or get a face full of wet kisses for doing nothing. She is so thankful for the littlest things and so protective of my family. I refer to her as a little heart at my feet! My circle of friends has also grown since I have met so many people that have dogs that are her playmates and not only do we meet for coffee but we set up playdates for dogs at the same time and just watch how they interact with each other, better than watching a movie!
My next project- a book on Venice and working on a PBS TV series based on my books and a web series that will be also based on my book series but will take viewers around to special places to experience food, culture, wine. I love exploring places that may be in your own backyard literally. People don’t realize that they don’t have to go far away to get a great food experience, they just may have to put some time into researching where that place may be. So I hope to help people find those places near home (across the USA). Everyone always thinks thy have to go far away for things, but sometimes I have gone half way around the world to find something that was practically in my own backyard literally. People don’t realize that they don’t have to go far away to get a great food experience, they just may have to put some time into researching where that place may be. So I hope to help people find those places near home (across the USA).
From the Gourmand World Award Winning Book Series and Celebrity Chef Maria Liberati come this book that follows Leonardo DaVinci on his travels throughout different regions of Italy and recipes from those very regions. DaVinci was a bit of a foodie, and this book reveals where his inspiration for the meal portrayed in The Last Supper comes from, as well as poetry about food from DaVinci’s own Notebook, and other inventions that DaVinci created for the culinary arts. The book also contains 100 recipes that are easy to follow, and follow the healthy and delicious Mediterranean Diet and Slow Food principles. Follow Celebrity Chef Maria Liberati as she shares recipes and stories from DaVinci’s travels. The book that combines food, art and travel as no one else can do!
Selected as the Best Italian Cuisine Book in the USA by Gourmand World Book Awards. This book will dazzle your Holidays or turn any day into a Special Occasion. Containing 100+ recipes, decorating tips, charming short Holiday stories by Celebrity Chef Maria Liberati. Now includes a chapter on the Feast of the Seven Fishes and contains Holiday menus and recipes for Christmas, Christmas Eve, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, Carnevale and the Epiphany. Includes recipes that are easy to follow, even some kid friendly recipes included.
About the Author
Maria Liberati is an Italian- American Chef/Entrepreneur/Author and winner of the prestigious Gourmand World Cookbook Award for her culinary travel book series- The Basic Art of Italian Cooking. Her award winning blog The Basic Art of Italian Cooking by Maria Liberati tm was selected as culinary travel blog of the year by the NY Travel Writers’ Society ,and has 300,000 worldwide followers. Maria is considered one of the foremost experts on Italian cuisine and wine. She regularly appears on TV, radio and in print and is currently developing her own TV series for PBS that is based on her culinary travel book series. Maria studied the culinary arts in Italy, and founded The Basic Art of Italian Cooking by Maria Liberati tm trademark now with its’ own line of food products that includes a pizza sauce and spice blends.
When schedule permits Maria is guest chef at gourmet Italian themed retail places and conducts specialty courses on gourmet Italian cooking and Healthy Eating and eating Sustainably. Her company The Basic Art of Italian Cooking by Maria Liberati tm organizes, hosts and caters corporate training culinary themed events for Fortune 100 and 500 companies.
You can purchase The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: DaVinci Style on Amazon.
The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays & Specials Occasions is also available on Amazon. Her other books in the series are also available there. Check them out!