Donatella Arpaia, who runs three restaurants in New York City, is a head judge on both ‘Iron Chef America’ & ‘Next Iron Chef’ and makes appearances on the Today Show, never doubted she wanted to be in the food and restaurant business. “Food is in my blood. I grew up in a family of restaurateurs and my crib was literally next to the dishwashing station in the restaurant kitchen. I spent summers in Italy at my family’s olive oil farm. Both my father and brother have successful restaurants in New York City,” says Donatella. “Although, my parents wanted a better life for me and persuaded me to go to law school, which I did. I realized after less than a month practicing law that I couldn’t shake this passion for cooking. Then I opened my first restaurant at 25,” Donatella casually explains. Did we mention Donatella is also a best-selling author who has recently launched a food and homeware line with Home Shopping Network (HSN) and is also a mother of a two-year-old?
Already Ms. Arpaia is kicking off 2014 is full swing with a number of new and interesting ventures lined up in addition to her regular routine. “I have a lot going on right now! I just finished shooting the pilot for my upcoming show. It’s going to be a unique talk show that always begins and ends with food- but it will be so much more than the average cooking show,” reveals Donatella. “I’ve also partnered with HSN where I’m selling elegant disposable linens, pearlescent stoneware, a counter-top pizza oven, my signature sauce and pizza crust mix, and of course- my famous meatballs. I’m so excited to have them in a frozen variety where the texture and flavor isn’t compromised.”
That said, Donatella tries to be in the restaurant as often as possible, “It really depends on my schedule and what I have going on, some weeks I’m there every day, and others just a few times per week, she says. “But, this is really my favorite part of the job as I am a people person. I love to make people happy and to create an environment to share and celebrate memories.”
Does having a toddler impact Donatella’s daily routine and dining habits? “Not much at all” she says, “although we do eat home more and go out less because it’s hard to keep a toddler at a restaurant.” Though, it doesn’t sound as if the apple is going to fall too far from the tree, as according to Donatella. ‘The little man’ already has a very sophisticated palate and sweet tooth! “My exercise regimen has changed now too as I spend a lot of time running after the little man,” she says “Other than that, I like to walk around Central Park or the reservoir for exercise. It helps me clear my head.”
So how does ‘one of the most powerful women’ in Manhattan (as named by the New York Post) fare with her food diary? Over to our expert nutritionist, Elyse Sosin, RD.