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CATHI IANNONE

Cathi Iannone is an award-winning, Italian-American home cook and blog writer who is  known by her culinary alias, The Brooklyn Ragazza.  She grew up in rural Upstate New York, between the Foothills of the Adirondacks and the Finger Lakes Wine Region, but has called Brooklyn, New York, her home for over 10 years, hence the alias. By day, she is a classically trained artist, designer & fine art investment consultant, but equally as defining, she is a full-blown, obsessed lover of food, wine, and traveling. She describes herself as someone who would, on a whim, "drive all the way to the northern tip of New York State, just because I heard they sell the best hand-made, oil-cured sausages.

Growing up in a close-knit, Italo-American community inUtica, New York, that proudly clings to Depression Era, "cucina povera-style" cooking, her recipes are a peek into the treasure chest of culinary heirlooms from many Italian-American's family generations throughout the State. Growing up in a large family with modest means, she describes her mother, Donnamarie, as "a bit of an alchemist, with a lot of panache," and as someone who could "coax luxury out of random ingredients that are lying around the pantry," with the belief that resourceful Italians are artists making imaginative use of whatever is at hand.

Over many years, her family has been involved in the restaurant biz/food industry in many ways, from small diners to catering; from food carts to fine dining. These inherited influences are strongly represented in her cooking and rustic photography style, with anecdotal story-telling. She sees her kitchen as another studio where she creates art, but a different kind of canvas; an edible canvas. A camera and a mandoline are equally essential tools in her kitchen, as she photographs nearly everything she prepares.

In 2010, she began entering recipe and food photography contests, seeking  fun and adventure, and as a way to share her community's "best-kept secret" recipes with the rest of the world, while making new friends, and winning numerous national competitions along the way. 

She began getting many requests for her recipes. After countless inquiries, and as a way to keep up with the requests, The Brooklyn Ragazza’s identity crystallized and a blog was created. Adding personal stories and photography was a way to create something that was more meaningful and enduring.  Her narrative serves to anchor the reader, as she gives you a sense of  local color, the people, the inspiration, and creative process behind the recipes as a kind of culinary scrapbook of cherished memories. She emphasizes the delicacies of Italian cooking, rather than the monotony of tomato-garlic-laden dishes that Americans mistakenly come to associate with Italian food.

Being an advocate of the Farm-to-Fork Movement, many of her posts express the importance of "food seasonality," and she seeks to educate her readers on healthy alternatives, gardening practices and tips, and ancient food production practices.

"Those that knew my family growing up know that you cannot even think about dropping by my Mom's place without bringing your appetite! You're going to sit down, you're going to feast, and I guarantee, you're going to fall in love! No questions asked. So, allow me to take your hand and bring you into my family's Italian-American kitchen and I will share with you some of the love we call Italian American cuisine. From my old, Italian family heirloom recipes, the many diverse, Regional Italian dishes, to the modern twist on an old classic, or the inventive fusion recipes that strike me as I roam these diverse NYC neighborhoods, I'm here to share them with you, my friends! Mangiamo! ~ Let's eat!