Food & Drink

April 1, 2012

Interview with Donatella Arpaia

Everyone has a story and today’s Chef in the Spotlight is no different as the child of first-generation Italian immigrants, Donatella Arpaia spent summers in Naples and on her mother’s family farm in Puglia as a young girl growing up.  Those summer months were full of family activity which was centered in and around the kitchen; pressing olives for olive oil, preserving vegetables, jarring tomato sauce or making fresh pasta by hand.  This all had a formative influence on Arpaia and provided the foundation for her expertise in southern Italian cuisine.

Those familiar with EOS and bistro e in Miami Donatella partnered with Michael Psilakis on those concepts bringing their wave of talent and NYC glamour to the Magic City albeit for a short time as they are no longer affiliated with the restaurant.

Donatella is Arpaia’s 10th restaurant and it is her most personal endeavor to date as this restaurant brings Donatella herself full circle. Donatella [the restaurant] is a true embodiment of both Arpaia’s rustic heritage and her role as a modern New York woman. Arpaia’s list of accolades and distinctions include Crain’s “40 Under 40”, the “Hostess with the Mostest” by Zagat and one of the ‘Most Powerful Women in Manhattan” according to the New York Post.  Her first cookbook, Donatella Cooks: Simple Food Made Glamorous was released in April of 2010. In addition to numerous TV appearances, Arpaia holds a recurring role as a guest judge on the Food Network’s “Next Iron Chef” and “Iron Chef America” and a contributor to NBC’s “Today Show”. I present this week’s successful and glamorous Entrepreneur in the Spotlight, Donatella Arpaia.

South Florida Food and Wine: You’re a busy woman running your company which encompasses a string of restaurants, your first cookbook and you are a Food Network personality. What is a typical day for you as the “brand” behind your company?
Donatella Arpaia: It’s hard to say as it differs from day to day.  Generally, I’m running all over town between meetings with potential new business ventures, handling publicity requests, and spending time at the restaurant to make sure it’s operating smoothly.  Plus, I’m trying to fit in time with my newborn son and my husband.

South Florida Food and Wine: You’re not just a chef but an entrepreneur as well, what is the most challenging thing about being an entrepreneur?
Donatella Arpaia: You have to risk big which means sometimes you can also lose big; you have to have an iron stomach to deal with today’s economic environment. You can never get comfortable so you must constantly evolve your businesses and your brand to keep up and stay in the game.

South Florida Food and Wine: Where do you get your culinary inspiration?
Donatella Arpaia: Italy and my extensive family in Italy. Plus my parents of course.  My father is a restaurateur and my mother grew up in an agricultural town in Southern Italy.  Growing up, I spent my childhood summers on my mother’s family farm in Puglia where I learned to make fresh pasta and olive oil and jar tomato sauce from my mother and several of her sisters.

South Florida Food and Wine: What is your favorite dish to make at home?
Donatella Arpaia: I love to make orecchiette by hand with braised broccoli rabe and sweet fennel sausage in a simple garlic and olive oil sauce

South Florida Food and Wine: It’s your last day on earth, what would your final meal be?
Donatella Arpaia: Hmmm… it runs the gamut from really fresh oysters to caviar with warm blinis and crème fraiche to French fries.

South Florida Food and Wine: What is your one guilty pleasure food?
Donatella Arpaia: My chef makes this pizza with crème fraiche, bacon and chives that’s to die for!

South Florida Food and Wine: What is your one go-to ingredient and why?
Donatella Arpaia: Extra virgin olive oil.  It’s the foundation of Italian cooking and it’s so versatile.

South Florida Food and Wine: What was the last restaurant you ate at? (other than your own)
Donatella Arpaia: My dad’s restaurant in Midtown Manhattan: Fiorini.  He has the best foccacia and old school Italian food!

South Florida Food and Wine: Who would you most like to cook for? And why?
Donatella Arpaia: I’m a typical Italian daughter; my dad was a pioneer in the restaurant industry in the 70′s and 80′s so I’m still trying to impress him. He is the toughest critic I know (and I am a judge on “Iron Chef”)!

South Florida Food and Wine: It’s your day off, what do you do for fun?
Donatella Arpaia: I like to relax and cook at our country home on the lake in Connecticut.  If I’m up for it, I’ll take a drive in my yellow Lamborghini. It’s so much fun to drive!

2012 Spotlight Interviews
2011 Spotlight Interviews
2010 Spotlight Interviews

Love the South Florida food scene? Check out our newly published book (Globe Pequot Press, $14.95), Food Lovers’ Guide to Miami & Fort Lauderdale







 
 

 
Two Doubles & Fries

Burger Beast Burger Brawl Miami Friday May 15th

Stage 305 at Magic City Casino is the scene for the 2015 Burger Beast Burger Brawl on Friday, May 15th. Tickets are $50 each and includes samples of all of the burgers , desserts, snacks and drinks. Juke will be rocking Stage...
by SFLFoodandWine Editor
0

 
 
CAM00793

Taste of the Nation Palm Beach Raises $24,000 in a Live Auction Dinner Bidding War

At last night’s Taste of the Nation Palm Beach the evenings’ highlight, was the mind-blowing live dinner auction hosted by WPTV NewsChannel 5′s Jay Cashmere and Sally Sevareid of KOOL 105.5; the live auctio...
by SFLFoodandWine Editor
0

 

 
greek wine

Cafe Boulud Palm Beach May Wine Dinner: Argentina: Beyond Malbec with Familia Zuccardi

Café Boulud’s Sommelier Mariya Kovacheva’s monthly wine dinner series will play host to  ‘Argentina: Beyond Malbec with Familia Zuccardi’ on Thursday, May 21st. Founded in 1963 by Engineer Alberto Zuccardi, Famil...
by SFLFoodandWine Editor
0

 
 
14855140627_11d20ded97_z

Four Corners of the World Dinner Series with Alex Chang and Norman Van Aken

The Vagabond Restaurant & Bar’s Executive Chef Alex Chang and South Florida’s very own famed, Chef Norman Van Aken are teaming up to create a series of four monthly dinners at MiMo’s Vagabond Restaurant & Bar, to ...
by SFLFoodandWine Editor
0

 
 
THE TUCKER DUKE photo credit: SouthFloridaFoodandWine.com

Tickets On Sale For Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale Burger Battle May 8, 2015

Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale Burger Battle™ Presented by The Pilgram Group is returning for its 6th year on Friday, May 8, 2015 to Huizenga Plaza in the heart of downtown Fort Lauderdale. The event will pit 16 South Florida res...
by SFLFoodandWine Editor
0

 

 
boiled-crawfish-1-img_3560_1

Get Your Crawfish On in Miami

Get ready to suck on some head and nibble on some tail, CRAWFISH are in season and the The Federal Miami is hosting a crawfish bonanza every Tuesday through the end of spring. Diners will have a chance to go traditional and ord...
by SFLFoodandWine Editor
0

 
 
ice cream photo credit: papphoto.com

Name That Ice Cream, What does Broward 100 Ice Cream Taste Like?

It’s Broward County’s 100th birthday and to celebrate this milestone, Jaxson’s Ice Cream Parlor and Restaurant and Broward 100 are inviting residents to enter a Facebook contest to create a new Broward 100 ice cream flav...
by SFLFoodandWine Editor
0

 



2 Comments


  1. SFLFoodandWine Editor

    thanks Joan, this was a fun interview


  2. I enjoyed this interview and the photo of Donatella is lovely!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

CAPTCHA Image

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>