That the peppy manager from Palermo had a thing for the Food & Beverage sector was already clear. And in fact, during her tenure as Director of Programs and Marketing at the Italian Cultural and Community Center (ICCC) of Houston (Texas, USA), Tiziana Ciacciofera “signed” a series of events centered around the food and wine world.
Tiziana, can you provide an overview of the projects you carried out while at the ICCC?
A long list, do we have enough space? I’m joking! During my tenure at the ICCC I had the great privilege of meeting and developing professional relationships with leading figures in the restaurant industry. Thanks to their collaboration, I was able to bring to life programs aimed at promoting authentic Italian cuisine in this beautiful part of the US which is Texas. Marking a net boundary line between authentic Italian and the excellent Italian-American cuisine was the focus of my programs. Educating the participants in the correct reading of a menu and in appreciating the diversity of Italian regional cuisine was another fundamental focus of my programs, among which are “A tavola con le tradizioni del …”, “La settimana della Cucina Mediterranea”, “A cena con lo Chef”, “Le Stagioni in tavola”, “Le sagre” and “Le strade del vino”.
However, the dearest program to my heart, in which I strongly believe in, is the well-known, also to the Italian public, “La Piccola Cucina”, unique educational program that not only transfers to children Italian language skills, but also the culture of flavors and of healthy nutrition. The program was designed, implemented and conducted by me in all these years and who knows what the future has in store.
Choosing to resign from a role and a position so dear to my heart, believe me, wasn’t easy. These have been 5 important years in which I dedicated all my time, my passion and determination in order for the Center to become what it is today: a point of reference for the Italian and non-Italian communities for the promotion of “brand Italia”.
The offer of Alberto Lombardi, owner of the renowned Lombardi Family Concepts chain (http://www.lombardifamilyconcepts.com), was the crowning of the sacrifices and dedication I put in my work. The way Alberto approached me and presented his project in Houston struck my sensitivity and significantly stirred my creativity. In short, his was an offer I could not refuse!
In any case, I believe that I have given an important contribution to the Center’s life story, but I also know that this was made possible solely by those who believed in me and my work. To them I say thank you!
I leave, however, an important legacy to who, after me, will continue to build along what I believe is now a well outlined path. Good luck to all of us!
You have recently been appointed Head of Foreign Relations by our director (Alessandra Verzera). Decision greatly applauded also by our editor Andrea Piovesan. How did this empathy with Verzera begin?
There is a Sicilian saying that fits this circumstance very well “nuddu si pigghia si un si rassumigghia (no one chooses someone who is not alike)”. Alessandra Verzera and I have many personality traits and professional facets in common. Managing an editorial is not easy, but Alessandra puts her heart, passion and professionalism in it, an explosive mix she transmits to her readers and collaborators. I believe in the magazine’s project, I think it has potential for international growth, and I feel truly honored to be able to give my small contribution toward making this happen.
In his expansion project, Alberto Lombardi recruited in his team a highly qualified professional, who coordinates and manages all his kitchens, Chef Renato De Pirro, now corporate Chef of the Lombardi restaurant chain. I have collaborated with Renato for many years. Together, we have conducted several successful programs and we both reciprocally know and appreciate one another’s value. It was Renato who introduced me to the team. Starting in March, Houston will have a new Italian restaurant “Taverna” (http://tavernabylombardi.com/) located in the luxurious River Oaks District (http://www.riveroaksdistrict.com). I will start my adventure with them as restaurant Manager on the 1st of February.
SdG International: what news can we announce with respect to the section you are in charge of?
Be ready for a very dynamic column. You will read interviews of well-known figures of the local restaurant industry, we will talk about import of typical Italian products, we will delight you with made in USA recipes. We will establish a virtual bridge between Italy and the USA, in order to raise awareness of the huge promotional work we Italians abroad carry out with passion, and who knows if, thanks to the column, new projects and collaborations won’t be developed.
“Tiziana Ciacciofera is not only an excellent professional, but especially a person with great humanity” – says Alessandra Verzera. “This has always been my primary goal since the founding of the magazine, establishing a team made up not only of highly qualified professionals, but also great human beings. I believe this is the necessary and sufficient condition for carrying out good teamwork, with everyone growing a bit more each day. Adding Tiziana to the magazine’s management team not only honors me as director, but particularly gratifies me as friend. My only concern is that it will be extremely difficult to enjoy a coffee together with my American friend! For the rest, we have a very strong synergy and several ideas we plan to implement both in Italy and in the USA. But it’s still too early to talk about them. In this moment what counts is enjoying the achievements as they are realized, among which the one that sees Tiziana managing an important restaurant abroad is only the last one in chronological order, for which I, personally and as director, wish her the best and most sincere wishes, certain that she will have great success “.
Alessandro De Simone
Cover Photo: Tiziana Ciacciofera with her husband, the biologist Fabio Triolo, Director of the Cellular Therapy Core at UTHealth in the Texas Medical Center in Houston.
Translation by Alessandra Verzera