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.
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. Thank you, Ms. Judy.
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 2017 marked 16 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 was still cursing Ms. Judy's name.
When I close my eyes I can still see the mailbox. 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. Listen, I had a thigh chafing problem - still do. Don't judge me or my thighs. In many moments throughout life I thought of steps as miles and miles as impossibilities. I refused to let that wet, soggy green grass and mailbox tease and torment me. Daily I conquered that mailbox and showed it who was the boss. Stopping for 15 minutes once I arrived to said landmark before I turned back to the house - catching my breath before I continued. 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'm like - YOU DID IT BOO. You still sweat, you still chafe, but you are a strong woman who is stacked in the back.
That summer I found cooking because there was 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, and I started by preparing meals of my childhood from memory. I made 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 that 1 pot of peasant 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.
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. 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.
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 the kitchen, in my little kingdom, and in myself. 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, my piece of mind - but sometimes I'm lazy and eat frozen vegetables or steamed chicken and broccoli from Chinese take out.
Today I’m living out a hope to truly inspire change and bring a little brightness into the world, that's all.