I am the owner of an Italian café and market in Wilmette, Illinois, a suburb on the north side of Chicago. The original Convito Italiano was opened in 1980. It included a deli, bakery, prepared foods, groceries and wine. Today it is renamed Convito Café & Market and has expanded to include an 80 seat restaurant.
In preparation for launching my business I wanted to learn as much as possible about the food, the wine and the culture of this country I so came to love. I had the good fortune to have extraordinary teachers, Milanese residents and future partners Paolo Volpara and his mother Wanda Bottino. During my frequent travels from 1979 to 1986 I was able to cook with Wanda in her small Milanese kitchen during the week then travel to different regions with Paolo on the weekends. I continue visiting Italy to this day but this was my time of total Italian immersion.
It was the beginning of an adventure that carried me to the four corners of Italy and every region in-between. It was also the beginning of another kind of journey – a personal one that opened up possibilities I never considered or knew existed. It was a heady time for a girl brought up in the fifties.