Home to the Italian Cultural Foundation, Casa Belvedere was closed to the public as it underwent major renovations from September to July of 2013. The result is a state-of-the-art kitchen that is used to provide cooking classes to professionals and amateurs alike. The kitchen, entitled “Cucina Colavita”, is frequently occupied by guest chefs who bring hands-on lessons to the public.
Casa Belvedere, which is actually more of a mansion than a house, is located in the Grymes Hill neighborhood of Staten Island. In 2008, the property was purchased by Gina Biancardi-Rammairone and Luciano Rammiarone with the intent to transform it into an accredited culinary institution. To that end, key renovations included a lofty kitchen ceiling, custom cabinetry, and professional grade cooking equipment. All of these renovations were made possible due to generous contributions from Colavita, a family-owned Italian food company.
There is quite an amazing story behind the brand that is now known worldwide, as it distributes their products to over 72 countries. The story begins in Sant’Elia Pianisi, the province of Campobasso back in 1935. A small local company dedicated to olives and olive oil production is born. This small family business soon becomes vital to the local economy offering products, which are based on quality, local agricultural production, and authenticity.
So how did they conquer the world? Enter John Profaci, an Italian-American businessman whom Enrico Colavita encounters on his honeymoon in America. “I would like to sell my oil in the U.S.,” says Colavita to Profaci. And Profaci replies: “Well, let’s try and see if I can sell it.” A new friendship and partnership is born and the Colavita name begins its American endeavor.
“First we gave demonstrations in stores, then in restaurants with Italian chefs. This was what they were looking for: quality and taste. Trends in this country do not start in supermarkets but in restaurants, but as long as you have a great product people will buy it.
Next comes the family bond that we have, we feel that that young generation wants to continue to promote our products and that speaks for itself,” stated Profaci. During the June 30th celebrations of the opening of the Cucina Colavita, Profaci continued to call out from the crowd the vital members responsible for the prosperity of the company and therefore for their generous sponsorships of initiatives such as that of Gina Biancardi. Soon enough it became difficult to capture the whole Colavita-Profaci family in one single photograph.
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