Inspiring food stories: A closer look at three award-winning SI food crafters

STATEN ISLAND, NY — For those interested in firing up a small business, there are some stories that might inspire. At the 13th annual Uncorked festival at Historic Richmond Town, three entrepreneurs did just that, all fueled by their particular passion in food.

The accomplished business owners — Staten Island natives — include Lorraine and Michael Delizia for “Butter Me Up”, “Cucina Teresa” aka Teresa Pignato-Rosenthal and the “Glam Gardener NYC” aka Aly Stoffo. So far their niches in the edible world have been forged by attending various festivals with samplings and cooking demos. Here are their stories.

Michael and Lorraine Delizia sell flavored butters from Butter Me Up. Scenes from “Tastemakers” at the Staten Island Museum, Saturday, Dec. 2, Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Gardens, Livingston (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Silvestri) (Staten Island Advance/Pamela Si

BUTTER ME UP — Winners of The 2022 Founders Award

Lorraine and husband Michael Delizia detail their journey so far in the food manufacturing world.

Lorraine explained, “It all started in September 2016 when we tried to buy a flavored butter of the month subscription for our nephew, Joey Patches. After researching, we found that did not exist. We joked about starting our own a butter of the month club and by November 2016 we decided to give it a go and started buttering everyone up!”

They started with four flavors in that year. Now, they churn over 30 with 15 in vegan styles and scopes to go along with it.

The Delizia’s worked festivals and county fairs. Their debut was on Staten Island at the Advance Cookbook contest and at Uncorked.

Lorraine said, “Our first event was on Staten Island in March 2017 where we were very well received and we’ve been growing ever since. As we continued to grow, we grew out of the kitchen we were sharing with a friend and moved into our own 1500 square-foot facility about a year ago where we spend a lot of time making butter and baking scones.”

The growing volume required to vend at farmer markets, service wholesale customers and produce wedding favors prompted the couple to invest in a van.

“These days you’ll see us driving around in our “Butter Mobile”, so stop us when we’re passing by! We are so grateful for all of the support we receive from our customers, family, and friends,” said Lorraine.

Fabulous food folks

Teresa Pignato-Rosenthal of Cucina Teresa Gourmet Salad Dressings at the post-ride activities from the Rolling Thunder Chapter 2 New York-Frankie “TowKar” Appice Memorial 3 Boro Run at the Marine Corps League 246th Detachment in Sunnyside. July 30, 2017. (Staten Island Advance/Derek Alvez). Staff-Shot(Staten Island Advance/Pamela Si

CUCINA TERESA aka Teresa Pignato-Rosenthal — Winner of The Founders Legacy Award and a presenter at Uncorked for the 13 years

Even before COVID’s quarantine days, Teresa Pignato-Rosenthal cooked up deliciousness for display on Instagram and Facebook. She eventually brought along a sous chef, her dog named Oliver.

Pignato-Rosenthal said, “My passion for cooking came from my Grandmother Teresa, watching her make the most incredible Italian food. So at 40 years old I went to culinary school — Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) in Manhattan.”

A mom of three (now Nana) she graduated in 2005 and worked in the restaurant business for 11 years. She now gives private cooking lessons, caters and works as a private chef. Yet in the rich life of a chef with varied talents, the one thing for which she became known was a signature set of salad dressings — creamy balsamic vinaigrettes. Pignato-Rosenthal now manufactures them and sells them at festivals and markets. A loyal member of the Verrazano Kiwanis, she regularly volunteers for not-for-profits. And in her spare time, she works as the office manager at her husband’s plumbing company, Response Service Group, Inc.

“I love what I do,” she confessed.

Fabulous food folks

Ally Stoffo is the Glam Gardener giving a presentation at Uncorked with tea and dipping oil made from wild herbs and plants. Pamela Silvestri(Staten Island Advance/Pamela Si

GLAM GARDENER aka Aly Stoffo — Winner of The Pam Silvestri award at Historic Richmond Town for best use of local ingredients

Dressed in a floral frock, an elegant Aly Stoffo can work a crowd into a frenzy — all over samples of teas and dipping oil made from locally harvested and/or organic herbs and produce.

Stoffo is a forager, environmental educator, and artist based in Staten Island. A Travis resident, she owns Glam Gardener NYC, a mission-oriented business dedicated to serving wild-harvested and organic herbal products, eco-based education, and sustainable art.

She graduated with a Master’s Degree in Sustainable Solutions from Arizona State University in 2019 where she taught at the University and studied solutions within the food system. Soon after, she moved home to Staten Island to begin work with a green energy consulting company in Manhattan.

But the pandemic had other plans for her, and on Monday, March 16th, she like many others in New York City, found themselves without employment and any idea of ​​what the future had in store.

During this tumultuous time in world history, she returned to the source of what inspired her to study sustainability from the get-go — the peaceful feeling that comes with being immersed in nature. She says, “It was during this time that I finally connected the dots between sustainability education, community, art, and advocacy.”

This ultimately planted the seeds, so to speak, for Glam Gardener NYC. Today she serves as a nature, outdoors, and foraging advocate in the Tristate area, hosting in-person community events. Topics of conversation include education on local food, foraging, gardening, and environmental advocacy. In April 2021, she organized a 500-person march to protect the Graniteville Wetlands.

What exactly is “foraging”?

As per Stoffo, that would be “the act of harvesting wild-growing plants for food and medicinal remedies.” She emphasizes the uses of harvesting invasive plants in her work — blooms and greens that are not native to our environment that outcompete native plants. She believes that harvesting wild-growing invasive plants can serve as a sensible solution both to problems of food insecurity and in our personal health, as many of them have medicinal qualities.

When she recalls why she’s inspired to do the work she does, Stoffo says, “Staten Island’s biggest resource is our green space. We should be treating these places like the gold that they are. Learning from them, having a reciprocal relationship with them, giving back to them, and immersing ourselves within them when the craziness of the concrete jungle gets to us. There’s beauty in living a life that is so deeply connected to nature and I hope to show others that we can connect with nature no matter how urban our environment is.”