Art Bodega Magazine

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How Olimpia Zuccarelli Is Re-shaping the World of Italian Cuisine with Her New Self-published Book

June 16, 2015

For a seat at my table…

Her beauty and charisma captivates everyone, much like many celebrated international female cooks like Nigella Lawson or Martha Stewart.  Olimpia Zuccarelli not only knows how to cook, she is also a powerhouse in the world of restaurant entrepreneurs who are taking the media by storm.  Olimpia’s sophistication exudes an attractiveness that is unparalleled by others. Whether at a fancy cocktail on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, shopping at Via Amore for a Jackie Rogers dress or carrying the Marley look at the Palm Harbor Marina, Olimpia is comfortable in her own skin. Her style is unique, genuine and out of this world.

She hails from an Italian family from New York, and started cooking at the age of nine.  Her mother still helps her in the kitchen of her famous restaurant Zucarelli’s located in West Palm Beach, at Military Trail. Here delicious and succulent dishes are imbued in your senses throughout this cozy venue that is reminiscent of an old world traditional Italian restaurant, with a modern flair.  When Olimpia gets in the kitchen, she means business!

Now with a self published book titled “A Chair at my table…being Zuccarelli: cooking, eating, living” Zuccarelli is set out to take New York with her charming personality and unique approach for the Italian cuisine. Her culinary expertise stems from a passion for cooking that’s been at her heart since the day she was born.  At the young age of 9, Olimpia involved herself with her grandmother’s traditional Italian kitchen.  Her mother who continues to be an inspiration and role model in Olimpia’s life, maintains an efficient and immaculate kitchen while training the staff to become a part of the Zuccarelli family and not just an employee. This warm and friendly atmosphere would make any foodie admire the duo.

The Zuccarelli family moved to Florida nearly thirty years ago, when the family decided to bring their unique Italian deli concept to a small town in Florida. Consequently, in the following years, the Zuccarelli family established one of the most recognizable and followed restaurants in the Palm Beach area, Zuccarelli’s.  She has been in Palm Beach for 34 years.

Olimpia Zuccarelli takes great pride when she states that “The name of Zuccarelli is very special to us.  With origins in Calabria, Italy, Zuccarelli is my family name.  It has a long and colorful history and I am so proud to have named my family restaurant Zuccarelli’s…I can tell you, I started cooking by myself by the time I was tall enough to reach the kitchen counter”.

In a world filled with competitive pressures, especially from corporations which establish box meal restaurants, Olimpia’s primary concern has always been her family.  She recognizes the importance of her family when she says, “I think my grandmother and my mother were and still are two of the most influential people in my life. After my grandmother passed away, my mother became my guiding light and mentor throughout my career as a restauranteur.  Having a great support system which encompasses my family and close friends is the secret to my success Of course without my restaurant patrons, I would have never been able to achieve a comfortable level of success in my life.” Olimpia refuses to cut corners and insists that the old world traditional family values and work ethics be incorporated into her business model and will always place her family and her restaurant family first when considering making decisions in her professional life.

Zuccarelli is involved with the community and is always ready to help support a variety of charities. Her philanthropic efforts have become well known in Palm Beach County, where her original recipes delight patrons and donors alike.  Her smile is seen while cooking at all times, never leaving an inch of generosity aside.  “I have always made a point to be grateful for the support of my community.  My restaurant is successful because of them.  Consequently, I have an obligation to give back to everyone who has given me much.  In the past, I have held fundraising events for several charities, ranging from animal adoption to fighting breast cancer”, adds the attractive brunette.

Recently, she confessed to have been surprised and honored by the nomination for the “Woman of the Year” charitable event for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS).  “I recently held a benefit dinner at the restaurant for LLS which raised over seven thousand dollars.  This event was widely mentioned in the news.  It made me very proud.”  Her decision to write a book came to her a couple of years ago, after family and friends urged her to share her story of success.   “I wanted to share my family stories and recipes with my friends and people in order to help anyone with the dream of owning and managing their own restaurant”, says the entrepreneurial power woman.

The title of the book, “A Chair at My Table, Living, Cooking and Being Zuccarelli” represents Olimpia’s sentiment regarding the importance of sharing a meal with the people around you, whether they are a family member or a stranger.   For the Zuccarellis, it is customary to leave an open chair at the family table for anyone who arrives for dinner.  The book took her two years, from conceptualization to publishing a hard copy. She admits that creating and writing about the recipes were fun and exciting to her, but publishing the book was a different story.  During the latter part, Zuccarelli admits it was extremely difficult, but with the help of people around her, she was able to overcome any obstacles and finalize this great gem for food lovers.

When she talks about style, she describes herself as classy and elegant…with a sprinkle of an adventurous spirit.  She admits to be surrounded by family and people she trusts.  She also says she is a constant traveler who loves to go shopping to New York, The Hamptons, Palm Beach, Milano and everywhere in Italy.  Her vast experience in wine is a testament to a great selection she carries at her restaurant.

The secret to her success?  Consistency.  “I want to give it all at this point in my life.  I want to pursue a television career and conduct seminars around the country which will focus on building entrepreneurial skills as well as develop the confidence to build your own business into a success.  “The importance of a successful business is CONSISTENCY in product and service.  Hands on management, is essential in order to maintain consistent quality and superior service.  Lastly, there is nothing more important in the food industry that always buying FRESH, FRESH, and FRESH!

Olimpia Zuccarelli is a refreshing presence in our culinary world….

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