Francesca Montillo

I was born and partly raised in a small town in Southern Italy and lived there for most of my younger years. My parents and our region in Southern Italy really helped me appreciate our food, culture and all its bounty. My dad was a produce merchant so our home was always filled with unsold deliciousness that always found its way to the table. My dad had several specialties that he liked to showcase and my mom always had a delicious meal waiting for my sister and I for when we returned home from school. Food has always been very prominent in my household, just like any other Italian household. We discuss dinner while eating lunch and tomorrow’s lunch while enjoying dinner!!

We lived in a small town built on traditions and customs that I still value today. I have fond memories of walking to church on Sunday mornings and smelling the delicious aromas coming from people’s homes. Sauces, meatballs, fried peppers and a fresh pot of brewing espresso always bring me back home. How funny it was to walk to church and be able to tell what everyone would be having for lunch that day!

After our move to the States, we were able to travel back and forth during the summers and this process really allowed us to maintain our Italian way of life. We frequently brought back authentic Italian ingredients, particularly the dried spices such as oregano and rosemary. Things haven’t changed all that much now and we still travel back whenever possible. It’s such a blessing to still have our home there and be able to go back and forth. And yes, we still bring some spices! Nothing like roasted potatoes with Italian rosemary or a tomato salad with real oregano!

Today, I teach cooking at several local Adult Education Centers in the Boston area as well as private classes in clients’ homes or my own. I also lead, plan and organize culinary tours to Italy. I am convinced more people should have experiences like mine. Authentic meals, the best espresso a Euro can buy, and the joy that can only come from traveling to Italy. What a thrill it is for me to bring people back to my native land. On our tours we participate in regional cooking classes, walking culinary tours, wine tastings and cultural excursions. No foodie or food enthusiast should miss the tours as it’s the best way to learn about the Italian culture, lifestyle and cuisine.

I am a proud member of the National Italian American Foundation, Italian Sons and Daughters of America and the National Organization of Italian American Women