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Greco (known as Rita to her family and friends) was
born in Newark, New Jersay, and grew up in both Newark
a BS degree in Business Education from Fairleigh Dickinson
University, Vita taught high school for more than thirty
years. She chaired the Business Education Department
and Moderated both the Performing Arts and the Future
Business Leaders of America Clubs. Before retiring from
teaching high school, she wrote a song, which was adopted
as an official 'Alma Mater'. In addition, she
has authored numerous poems and lullabies for her children.
She is the author of La Dolce Vita, an Italian
Cookbook containing all the recipes of the food she
cooks for her annual Christmas Eve Open House when she
entertains at least one hundred and fifty to two hundred
people (and the rest of us worry when we have a couple
of frineds coming for dinner!), and has been doing
so for more than thirty years. Her newest Cookbook is
Next Door to the Chicken Market, which contains
more than one hundred new recipes about the Italian
foods she and her family have made over the years.
what about Vita the passionate cook?
course, being Italian (Sicilian and Vallatese / Neopolitano),
I learned to cook by watching my mom. While growing
up Ii would sometimes help her by starting dinner before
she'd get home from work. I do like to eat, so cooking
is always a joy, and I'm always looking for new recipes
and new ways of preparing food. I believe that food
should not only taste good, it should look good, too!
can clearly remember my parents hosting their Christmas
Eve party every year with family, friends, and food
galore. I have continued this tradition by inviting
at least two hundred people each year and have been
doing so for the past thirty-five years. And, of course,
my family and I will do it again this year.
cook all the food and usually start right after Thanksgiving,
because some of the foods can be frozen. Some, however,
must be prepared on Christmas Eve day or only a day
or two beforehand. Now, my daughter-in-law and my daughter
lend a hand. One of the reasons I wrote the La Dolce
Vita cookbook was to satisfy all the people who
continually ask me how I prepare everything, how I organize
it all, how do I make this or that, etc, etc. The book
outlines all of that including all the foods I serve.
Every year, however, I add one or two new dishes.
the Star Ledger newspaper advertised their contest 'Got
Sauce'. to see who made the best Spaghetti Sauce
or Gravy in New Jersey, I was urged to enter. I sent
in a letter explaining where my recipe came from and
why I believed it was the best in New Jersey. I became
Sara Moulton and others from the Newspaper tasted all
the finalists' Gravies and Sauces, they chose mine as
the best in New Jersey. I call it Gravy when there's
meat in it. I must say, though, that the other finalists
had good-tasking gravies, too. Of course, I was thrilled
when I won the constest. Sara then invited me to appear
on her show, 'Cooking Live'. It was such a wonderful
experience. She is a lovely lady, and everyone at the
Food Network was extremely hospitable. I was a little
nervous at first, but as soon as I started to cook,
I forgot that I was on live television! It really was
a great experience and very enjoyable.
must say that after I prepared Gravy and Macaroni, Eggplant
Parmigian, and Manicotti on live television, the entire
staff had a feast and ate everything immediately. I
was so glad they enjoyed it all.
am a great believer in tradition and very proud of my
Italian heritage. I want to keep the traditions alive
for my children and grandchildren. Because of this I
wrote the book Next Door to the Chicken Market. It's
about growing up in an Italian neighborhood and contains
all the recipes of the Italian dishes I make and much
I have been asked to do cooking demonstrations for Shop
Rite and other Italian Specialty Shops, and I will be
teaching two cooking classes in local Adult Schools.
a little poem I wrote for my son as he left for college:
you're hungry, don't be shook,
If you can read, you can cook!
Winner of the Star Ledger Newspaper's 'Got Sauce'
contest, Vita appeared on Sara Moulton's 'Cooking
Live' on televisions Food Network. Her Pasta Gravy
here> was chosen as the 'Food Network's Choice'
. . . the Best in New Jersey!
is active in her community by serving on the Board of
Directors of her local Cultural and Heritage Committee
and the Board of Directors of Mystic Vision Players,
she lives in New Jersey with her husband, Tony, and
her two dogs, a Yorkshire terrier named Maxwell and
a wire-haired Fox terrier named Oliver.
she is not involved in doing a cooking demonstration,
teaching a cooking class, or producing a show for the
community theatre, Vita spends time reading or enjoying
her summer cottage on the Jersey shore - sun, sand and
surf with Sicilian cooking and her beloved family and
are some of Vita's recipes published on