My plant-based journey began in July 2007. The sudden passing of my father, Franco, at 62, shook me to my core. Cause of death – heart attack. It came from nowhere. Only a week after completing his first half marathon, he passed away suddenly during a training session. In the same week I miscarried my first pregnancy and my Nonna died (but that’s a story for another time)
Let’s say the trauma was huge, the scars deep and I wasn’t quite sure how I’d get through it. Months passed and I remained numb, mostly confused. How did this happen? Why did this happen? My Dad was training for a marathon, I thought he was relatively healthy. My mum was a chef, we ate well, we lived well. No warning signs, no time to help him, it was all so sudden.
Six months passed and I attended a Tony Robbins seminar seeking joy, seeking answers. The fourth day was centered purely on health and wellness, and how to live a long life with energy and vitality. Quite serendipitous to find myself there. I was ready to receive the information and it landed with a thud. My whole world changed that day. My mind exploded with realisations. I understood immediately that we must take responsibility for our health and wellness. Our bodies can only endure so much before they simply can’t take it anymore.
I left that seminar and made changes instantly. I made changes that made sense to me. And not just around food. In all areas of my life (food, spirituality, mindset, etc). Since that day I’ve been on a journey to understand what lifestyle best fits me. I’d describe my journey as a rollercoaster. Huge highs and feeling great and then lows, where I’ve questioned everything. After 15 years I’ve settled into what feels best in my body. I remain mostly plant-based and I’m always learning and refining what I do.
Fast forward to today. Here I am
at Wholesome Bellies, sharing my heart and love of plant-based food with you. Teaching
others how to cook healthy, delicious vegetarian meals. EVERY SINGLE day I walk into Wholesome Bellies, I thank my dad, Franco, for this gift. It’s bittersweet! His passing is the reason I do what I do today! He was my inspiration to take a deep dive into health and wellness. I wish every day he was with us, to play with the grandchildren he never met, to witness the beauty of this world, to enjoy family dinners with us, to walk hand in hand with my mum along the beach, as they promised. Sometimes life throws us a few curveballs. I’ve learnt it’s how we catch them and repurpose them that makes the difference. I am 100% fulfilled with where I’m at and so grateful, and at the same time my heart aches just a little bit each day.
A big part of the story I missed was the beginning. So let me quickly take you there….
Born to Italian immigrants, we settled in Melbourne for a short while and then followed the sunshine to the Gold Coast. It was here mum, Rita, and dad opened their first Italian restaurant in the 80s. It was called Arrivederci, and today is still proudly operating in Brisbane by my brother.
My parents worked hard. Witnessing them build a better future for their family instilled strong family values. They took the biggest leap, opening a restaurant with no formal qualifications. My mum was (and still is) the most incredible cook. An absolute genius in the kitchen, with such grace and strength. And my dad –more determination and passion than I‘ve ever witnessed in anyone else.
Restaurant life was tough for a kid. We grew up with many different babysitters as mum and dad worked. Some nights were lonely. I missed them all the time and couldn’t wait until I was old enough to work with them.
What I respect the most was the value my parents placed on our family meal. Every single day, without fail, we would come home from school for a family meal. My mum would set the table beautifully, she’d cook an amazing meal, and for an hour we would sit down and have dinner (mind you it was 4pm 😊), talk about our day and connect. As a teenager, I can’t say I was impressed with this notion. Some days I just wanted to hang out with my friends, ride my bike in the street, and watch TV like most kids. But I get it now. In fact, the older I get the more I understand and the more grateful I am for this daily ritual.
As I write this story, I am overwhelmingly flooded with gratitude for my mum and dad! And it becomes seemingly obvious to me that Wholesome Bellies is an extension of their magic. It’s an opportunity for me to open my heart, share their stories and welcome you to our family.
It’s because of them that I exist.
It’s because of them that Wholesome Bellies exists.
And it’s because of them that I am capable of loving.
And there can be no greater gift in the world than love and acceptance.
I want you to know when you visit us at Wholesome Bellies, it is so much more than a cooking lesson or a dinner.
It’s a place where you belong.
It’s a place where you can connect.
It’s a place to feel immense joy.
Welcome to our family 💗