La Chef Italiano
When Karly Siciliano ’04 heads to the kitchen she’s exercising her passion and her talents. Simple ingredients drive her, starting with fresh hand-cut pasta, kneaded between two floury hands, followed by a simple but pivotal sauce, a fragrant combination of garlic, chili, and olive oil, and topped with fresh herbs. This meal would please anyone on the planet, but especially draws in her Italian neighbors, who flock to the young chef, despite her American heritage.
Now her cooking is also her profession. She founded Italian Taste in 2013 in the heart of Florence, now her hometown.
“I never thought I would have ended up becoming a chef,” she says. “I graduated from The Indian University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in hospitality. After learning the business side of restaurants, I needed to know what was happening in the kitchen to ensure good cost control. That’s when I realized I had a strong curiosity to explore Italian cooking.”
After she earned her master’s degree in Italian cuisine and design from The Apicius International School of Hospitality, she worked her way up to the head chef position at the one of Florence’s renowned restaurants, La Buca dell’Orafo, just down the street from the Uffizi Gallery. From there, she returned to Apicius, this time as a teacher. After years of working for and teaching others, she decided to exercise her own skills, and started Italian Taste.
Cooking has long been a deep-seated passion for Karly, fueled by fond childhood memories of cooking with her uncle, Olindo Siciliano. Olindo owned and operated an Italian restaurant in New Jersey, and he would grace Karly’s kitchen with authentic Italian products. “During his visits, he taught me how to build flavors using basic cooking techniques,” Karly remembers. “He showed me that food could be a way to express love for the people around you, a concept that I use every day of my life.”
The most gratifying aspect of Karly’s job is seeing the positive reactions of her customers as they take the first bite of her food. And she is thankful that the attitude towards food was positive in high school: “When I was a student at Holy Child,” she says, “we were encouraged to eat. They made it a priority to create a healthy relationship between women and food, something that society did not do at the time.”
Although she still travels home a few times a year to see her parents and four siblings, and to appease her Mexican food cravings, Italy is now her home. If we’re lucky, her next venture will be an “Italian Taste” cooking show, so we’ll all get a taste of her culinary wisdom.
Angie Speros-Scarfone ’78
Italian cooking, albeit with an American twist, reigns supreme on this side of the pond as well. Angie Speros-Scarfone headed south to Florida years ago. Now, along with Tom, her husband of 23 years, she owns a catering business and popular pizzeria, Scarfone’s Coal-Fired Pizza. The upscale eatery, with two locations—Coral Springs and Wilton Manors—serves up a modern blend of traditional and modern Italian dishes, from pastas to flatbread to jumbo handmade meatballs in a hearty San Marzano tomato sauce.
Heather Crosby ’93
Heather believes that people can eat well, without harsh dieting, and so YumUniverse was born. The website (www.yumuniverse.com), blog, and subscription service provides recipes, meal plans, and more to create healthier lifestyles. (She also has videos on YouTube, and on numerous other social media platforms.) Her book of more than 150 recipes, YumUniverse: Infinite Possibilities for a Gluten-Free, Plant-Based, Whole Food Lifestyle, featuring natural foods and inspirational cooking, came out last year to glowing reviews.
Beth Spencer Collins ’80
It was amazing to Beth Spencer Collins and her brother, Tom Spencer, that their town lacked a neighborhood market. So last year, they opened Potomac Grocer, a full-service, family-owned caterer and gourmet grocery store in popular Potomac Village. They proudly support local vendors, who supply the store with organic and fresh ingredients for homemade soups, sandwiches, or quality meats and vegetables for a dinner party.