“Gabriele Salvatores is the ideal artist to preside over the current edition of this festival. His love for our country, his support and his...
Nancy DeLucia Real is an art historian and chef extraordinaire with an Italian flair. Her road to chefdom began in Campania with her nonna, Annunziata DeLucia, after whom she was named.
Nancy, or Nunzia, has a Southern Italian background. Her maternal grandfather immigrated to Canada from Campobasso, Molise in the 1920’s. Her father, Alfonso Lorenzo DeLucia, emigrated from Avellino, Campania in the 1950’s. His mother, Annunziata, had taught him the fine art of Italian cooking from a young age. Alfonso opened a string of popular Italian restaurants in California and Mexico.
Hailing from a chef family, it wouldn’t be long until Nancy developed her own taste for the kitchen. Born in Montreal, Canada, Nancy moved to Avellino, Campania at age ten with her Italian parents.
While seafood dominates the regional cuisine, Avellino prides itself on high quality meat products, particularly those of sheep and pork. Capocollo, pancetta, soppressata, and fiocco di prosciutto share the culinary limelight of Avellino.
Avellino is praised for its booming cheese production as well. The traditional pecorino Carmasciano, the “piccante” Pecorino Bagnolese, and the fluffy ricotta Laticauda are its specialties. The gastronomic wonderland of Avellino set the stage for Nancy’s culinary adventures, guided by both of her nonnas.
Nonna Annunziata ran a tight kitchen, expecting much of little Nunzia. Nancy recalls, “My nonna was very demanding, and I really had to please her. If I worried about the pasta being too hard, she would look at me sternly and ask, ‘e quindi? Cosa fai? [So? what are you going to do?]. She trained me to think critically and like a chef.”
Nonna Annunziata taught Nancy to be creative and resourceful with whatever ingredients she could find in the kitchen. She recalls, “My nonna used to say to me ‘non hai ingredienti [you don’t have ingredients]. Crea!! [Create!] Crea la ricetta. Devi pensare [you need to think].’”
Nancy’s maternal grandmother, Nonna Maddalena, instead, taught her all things about baking: breads, tarts, pies, etc. Here, Nancy refined her baking skills, and she continues to employ Nonna Maddalena’s infallible baking techniques to this day.
Nancy also began her classical art education in Italy, and she continued to study art history upon her arrival in the U.S. Nancy delves into art with great passion. “Every period of art is my favorite. Every period has its own innovations, and they’ve added their own cultural creativity to their artwork. I love the paintings of Caravaggio, I love the bronze sculptures of the ancient Greeks and Romans. They all depict the human figure very realistically. How can I choose between them?”
Nancy began working at the Getty museum developing adult and K-12 art education programs. She led tours of the museum for families, student groups, and VIPs and designing teaching models for teachers in the LAUSD system. She conducted tours in English and Italian, as well as French and Spanish.
Nancy fell in love with teaching, and she found great success. She became the museum educator at the J. Paul Getty Museum teaching culinary courses linked to art. She has also taught international cuisine at Williams Sonoma and Sur La Table stores.
Today, Nancy is a member of the Italian Academy of Cuisine and the Culinary Historians of Southern California. She founded the web-based food network, The Kitchen Buzzz in 2011. She combines her classic Italian culinary training and ingenuity to make innovative, gourmet recipes, such as penne with cilantro-pesto and edamame. You can access her cooking show at http://thekitchenbuzzz.com/
She will be teaching a historic culinary course this fall at the Italian Cultural Institute entitled “From Roman Villas to Baroque Palaces: Historic Food.” The class will begin with a tour at the Getty Museum, in which students will explore the masterpieces of Italian painters and sculptors, as well as the artists they inspired.
After touring the Getty, Nancy will lead her students in cooking a meal inspired from the Baroque Era based on Renaissance chef Bartolomeo Scappi’s cookbook, Opera dell’arte del cucinare. Scappi worked as a chef for Popes Pius IV and Pius V, and his monumental cookbook was used throughout the next centuries. “Italians were always the trendsetters in Western dining,” Nancy remarks.
“I love interacting with my students and sharing my knowledge and expertise,” beams Nancy, “I teach using the Socratic method, as nonna Annunziata taught me. I ask the students what they notice and I build on their answers.” She practices this teaching method to illuminate ideas and enable students to embrace the mindset of a true chef.
The brilliance of Nancy DeLucia is that instead of claiming perfection, she is constantly seeking new avenues to build and improve. “Perfection doesn’t exist. You’ll always be lacking something no matter what project you’re working on, so you have to be able to think on the spur of the moment. When you’re able to improvise like this, that’s when the best creations are made. It’s the same in the art world. You never know whether certain aspects of paintings are deliberate or unplanned, but the end result is a masterpiece.”