We had the good fortune of connecting with Amy Riolo and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Amy, is there a quote or affirmation that’s meaningful to you?
I always say “Let your love for what you do be stronger than your fears. Visualize what you want and don’t let doubt take over.” This has been my mantra throughout life. Fear is normal and an automatic response from the brain. Sometimes the more intelligent and informed you are, the more you have to fear. The only way to counter the fear is love. It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about cookbooks or culinary products or personal relationships. By focusing on what we love about things we change our mental state and can overcome our fears step by step. I have used this philosophy in my own health and wellness journey, in my career, and in my relationships. If I can do it, so can anyone.

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I believe that people should live and eat with both pleasure and health in mind. To me, food holds the power to create bridges between us and the people who have come before and after us. I love sharing the history of food and the culture(s) that it comes from to help people not only enjoy flavors and good health, but the unifying power that cuisine offers. My brand represents a world of Italian and Mediterranean cuisine, culture, and living. I create recipes, my Amy Riolo Selections gourmet products, cookbooks, events, tv appearances, and culinary tours to share not only good taste and techniques, but also the people, rich traditions, and breathtaking places that inspired them. I love teaching others how to use the world’s healthiest diet to live better and longer. After living and working all over the Mediterranean region, I’ve witnessed firsthand how the Mediterranean lifestyle can transform lives. I invite my readers and clients to follow me on a delectable journey that will help them lead their best life while enjoying themselves in the process.
It wasn’t easy to get here. I started this career in 2007 after a serious health scare and spending 3 years legally disabled. Writing and cooking were my favorite activities, and by focusing on them, and the dream that if I healed I would be able to do them more, I was actually able to cure myself. Of course, this is a very long story made shorter, and it involved a team of medical professionals, my family and loved ones, and a lot of suffering and faith to get through. But, all in all, it gave me the desire and drive to make my professional dreams come true. I believe that we are all put here for different reasons. When I found my calling, I wouldn’t let anything stop me from doing it. I was fortunate to meet my mentor Sheilah Kaufman soon after healing, and she taught me how to write and publish cookbooks. I worked and volunteered anywhere possible so that I could build experience an my author platform. My first book was rejected 50 times. When it finally was picked up, it went to print in second edition and won the World Gourmand Award in Paris. I have since written 16 other books and plan to write many more.
As far as my culinary products are concerned, it was Stefano Ferrari, my importer, who really taught me everything that I needed to know, and helped me create and import the products that I wanted, so I’m very grateful for that.
Some of the lessons I’ve learned are:
1. Never give up!
You may not get what you want when you want it, but if you’re persistent in your belief that what you’re doing is worthwhile, stick with it. You will get additional opportunities along the way, and your idea will come to fruition when it’s meant to.
2. Don’t let anyone tell you what you’re capable of.
You’re the only person who knows what you can achieve. Just because someone else couldn’t do something, doesn’t mean you can’t achieve your dream. If you can dream it, you can be it.
3. Don’t worry about the “hows”
So many dreams get crushed because people don’t know how to achieve them. Just because we can’t achieve something right now, doesn’t mean that the right people and circumstances won’t come into our lives to help us when we need them. I always focus on what I want, and how great it will feel having it instead of the obstacles. Sometimes by changing our thinking, the obstacles take care of themselves.

I would like to know that my brand is really built upon providing people the best ways to live with pleasure and health in mind. I share my experiences, my amazing connections, and all of the information I have learned by specializing in my field to empower others. I have seen how people in my own family have benefitted by following the tenants of the Mediterranean lifestyle, and I would love for the whole world to benefit as well.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?

I’m based in the Washington, DC area, but spend a lot of time in Italy, and lead culinary tours to Greece and Morocco, so I am used to showing people around.

When people come to DC, I like to plan a combination of events that suit their own personal style along with the best that the city has to offer.
In terms of neighborhoods, I would take them to Georgetown for shopping and to see the harbor at night. I would take them to eat at Il Canale while there. When the weather permits, I would take them to Old Town Alexandria to show them the other side of the river and how the cities were originally founded. We would shop and sight see and probably eat a Tapas-style meal at Barca.
When visiting DC a day (minimum) should be spent at the Smithsonian Institution seeing all of the amazing treasures in the scores of museums for free. We would have lunch at the National Museum of the American Indian and then go over to the National Gallery of Art for the exhibits and gelato. The Capital Building and Washington Monument are also located in the same area, so it’s really convenient.
Another day I would take my guests to visit the Library of Congress where they could witness the stunning Italian architecture and precious artifacts such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech. I am always overwhelmed with emotion there. When we finish, I would take them for a meal at Stellina in Union Market to enjoy the best Italian street food (the fried artichokes are better than many I’ve had in Rome), fresh pasta, Neo-Neapolitan pizza, and cocktails.
On one of the weekend days, I’d take my guests to nearby Annapolis, MD, for its charming harbor, and enjoy lunch on the water. On one of the evenings, I’d take them to the Adams Morgan neighborhood in DC for a taste of traditional El Salvadorian food at El Tamarindo.
If my guests are interested in culture, I like to take them to see the embassies on Embassy Row, and usually make an appt to show them around the Italian embassy. Afterwards, I would take them to Al Tiramisu for a meal and service that would truly transport them to Italy. Other favorite places to take people are the Hillwood Museum and the Press Club.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have hundreds of people that I would love to thank. I like to thank the universe for putting the best people in my path at the perfect time. Directly related to my career, though, I would love to thank my cookbook mentor, Sheilah Kaufman for her love, support, friendship, and guidance. I would also like to thank Stefano and Davide Ferrari of Cibo Divino for helping me create my Amy Riolo Selections line as well as to all of the amazing merchants that sell it. I am very grateful to Tenute Cristiano in Calabria who produce my olive oil, Olio Anfosso who produces my Sundried Red Pesto, Pasta Marella in Puglia for creating my pasta, and Acetaia Castelli for creating my White Balsamic Condiment. In Calabria, Italy I would like to thank Chefs Salvatore and Enzo Murano of Trattoria Enoteca Max for including me in all of their cultural/culinary initiatives and for making me an honorary member of the Associazione Regionale Cuochi Pittagorici. I’d like to thank Alessandro Cuomo for creating an Italian non-profit called A.N.I.T.A. which translates to the Italian National Academy for Food Traditions. I would like to thank my editor Tracy Boggier at Wiley for being so great to collaborate with and my culinary medicine partner, Dr. Simon Poole for being a fantastic co-creator. My dear friend and colleague, the amazing restaurateur Joe Farruggio always teaches me a great deal and is an inspiration to me. I also have a team of professionals who I am fortunate to work with and call friends; Chef Jeff Fritz, Jonathan Bardzik, Kim Foley, Gail Broeckel, Paul Kolze, and Edward Donnelly, I appreciate everything you do.

Website: www.amyriolo.com

Instagram: @aasriolo

Linkedin: @amyriolo

Twitter: @amyriolo

Facebook: @amyrioloofficial

Youtube: @amyriolo3825

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutDFW is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.