As a child growing up in Palermo, Sicily, Nick Stellino spent hours in the kitchen perfecting his family’s best-loved recipes. That early training served as excellent preparation for Stellino’s successful career as one of the most acclaimed Italian chefs and cookbook authors of our time.
But before stardom came apprenticeship. Nick left a lucrative job as a Wall Street stockbroker in 1991 and started his restaurant career as a lowly dishwasher. He gradually learned the trade and moved up the ranks; soon he was soon cooking alongside legendary chefs in some of the best kitchens in the United States. Stellino recalls those jobs as “heaven,” but they weren’t quite enough. “I wanted to share my enthusiasm for Italian cooking with more people,” he says today.
Television gave him the opportunity he was seeking. Since 1995, Stellino has invited viewers into his Los Angeles home through his popular PBS series, Cucina Amore, and most recently Nick Stellino’s Family Kitchen. But the private Stellino emerges during the holiday season, when he cooks for those closest to him: his family.
“The holidays are a time for me to put everything aside and focus completely on my family,” he says. “As the host, it’s my job to make sure that everyone spends enough quality time together, so at the holiday table, I’ll mix up the seating. I like to seat elders and teenagers in close proximity, which gives everyone a chance to share great stories and strengthen family bonds.” He adds with a laugh: “Money comes and goes, but a family, your family…that is forever!”
One of Nick’s favorite winter desserts is Pears in Red Wine Sauce, his take on the classic poached pear. The simple yet elegant recipe, made with pears, red wine, and C&H Pure Cane Granulated Sugar, is the perfect light ending to a filling holiday meal.
Discover more of Nick Stellino’s dessert ideas when you order his Sweet Secrets recipe booklet; look for our offer on 5-pound bags of C&H Sugar. And get to know him better by visiting his website, where he shares his favorite recipes and cooking tips.