Hi. I'm Tina.
I’m an Italian-American, big hearted and always bright eyed, brunette who buys herself flowers every Sunday because in this life, the only guarantee we have is that we can treat ourselves well.
Grocery shopping and cooking get me excited. And nothing gets my motor running like fresh produce and sharing how to pick out perfectly plump, juicy peaches and ample avocados from the market.
When I'm not getting lost in farmers markets procuring produce and experimenting in my kitchen with freestyle cooking and recipe free ingredient riffing, I've been helping people learn what it means to feel good on the inside.
From teaching creative corporate and community workshops to one on one coaching, private cooking lessons and group classes - I'm showing people how to live again.
GETTING IN THE KITCHEN
I was put on Weight Watchers at age 4. I learned to request apples, fat free hot dogs and Quaker granola bars for meals. How did this happen? We were weighed weekly in our pre-k class and my mom was instructed to help me lose weight. From that point on I was always dieting and being told to lose weight.
From Weight Watchers to South Beach, Fit America, Blood Type, Paleo, Food Combining and Personal Trainers. - I did it all. And then I did something so un-Tina, but very Tina all at once - I left my home in Brooklyn and moved to a farm in Connecticut for 3 months in the Summer of 2001.
The summer of 2018 marked 17 years since I've been back to the farm where Carolyn and I spent many a day and night caring for a home, a pony and a few sheep. I was 20 years old when I arrived in my dad’s 1991 Plymouth Voyager. I was sweating. It was hot. I wondered what I was going to do without my family around.
When I close my eyes I can still see the farm and the very mailbox that changed my life. The mailbox, a tease, slightly visible across the long stretch of grass from the Grants little blue door where I used to stand staring out into the gaping field of green. Without moving, I could feel the tingle of chafing thighs. I had a thigh chafing problem - I still do. Don't judge me or my thighs because they always did, and still do, love one another. In many moments throughout life I thought of steps as miles and miles as impossibilities, but I refused to let that wet, soggy green grass and mailbox tease and torment me. Daily I conquered walking to and from that mailbox. Walk, sweat, stop, wipe, walk. Chafe. Chafing. Completely chafed. Repeat. My thighs rubbed with accomplishment. Yes, thighs can feel accomplished.
Today I walk from Queens to Manhattan and everywhere in between.When I walk, I have not a single thought of a failing heart. I still sweat, I still chafe, and I admire that I’m a strong woman who is stacked in the back.
That summer on the farm I didn’t only find walking, but I found cooking because there was no dining hall or automatic refrigerator and pantry re-stock courtesy of my mom or nonna. I was forced to change the relationship I had with food on an emotional and habit level. I started by preparing meals of my childhood from memory, making lentils once a week until I taught myself how to make something else. I remembered the taste of my grandmother's lentils, speckled with carrots, celery, onions, green escarole and just the right amount of red pepper - always finished with a snowy mountain of pecorino. My love for cooking began with 1 pot of beans. Hot beans in the summer. What a change from 4 year old fat free hot dog slinging Tina and the 16 year old C-Town cashier who hid Little Debbie Nutty Bars under her register. Now I eat Little Debbie Nutty Bars, but I’m not hiding it from the world.
I haven't stopped walking, cooking or learning about food and our complex human relationship with it since that morning on the farm. I haven’t stopped thinking about how important it is for me to use my story to help people who seek change regardless of weight. Since this is not about weight at all, but about finding a light in ourselves. I’ve gotten emails about friends pursuing passions, buying themselves flowers and changing careers all because I opened my big dumb heart to share my story of mind/body shifts and a career change.
I didn't find love in the club. I also wonder who might be reading this that gets my Usher reference. I found love in myself and in my kitchen. All that stuff about loving yourself being important, as you are and where you are, it's true. Food healed me. It's my art and my piece of mind.
Today I’m living out a hope to truly inspire change and bring a little brightness into the world, that's all.