They are Donatella’s most vivid childhood memories: spending summers at her family’s Italian olive oil farm, the yearly ritual of jarring homemade sauce, and Mama Maria teaching her the family recipes as she stood on a stool and peeked up at the stove. From a young age, Donatella learned the recipe for quality meals and bringing people together. She grew up in a family of restaurateurs- both her brother and father owning successful restaurants in New York City.
At the encouragement of her family, Donatella studied law at St. John's University and enjoyed a brief career as a corporate attorney. She quickly returned to her undeniable passion for the culinary arts and opened her first restaurant Bellini in 1998. She returned to school, earning Le Grand Diplôme for Classic Culinary Arts at the French Culinary Institute and the Italian Culinary Academy.
Since the opening of Bellini, Donatella has lent her expertise to string of successful restaurants- like Davidburke & Donatella, Anthos, and Kefi. These projects and more have collectively earned substantial praises and awards, such as 4 and 5 star ratings from Forbes, Five Diamond Awards, and James Beard nominations. Most recently, she opened her first upscale quick service pizza concept “PROVA PIZZABAR” in Grand Central Terminal and has expansion plans throughout the country.
At the success of her restaurants, Donatella has become an influential woman in the world of business and culinary arts. She is best known for her role as head judge on Food Network’s Iron Chef America and the Next Iron Chef, and is a regular contributor to NBC’s The Today Show. She continues to make the rounds on television with guest judge appearances and culinary demos alike.
Her first cookbook, Donatella Cooks: Simple Food Made Glamorous, was released in April 2010 as a sassy guide to cooking and entertaining with flair. Writing with humor, wit, and practicality, she covers every element of a great evening, from super simple yet delectable food to the perfect music, drinks, and décor.
In 2010 and 2012, Donatella entered her mouthwatering veal-braised meatballs in the New York Food & Wine Festival’s Meatball Madness competition. Proving there is no substitute for a classic, slow-cooked recipe, Donatella won the competition twice- beating out major names in the culinary world!
Donatella recently brought her signature brand to HSN with all-natural food and glamorous home wares, which include her award-winning veal braised meatballs in frozen form. Her original products are eating 5-star customer reviews as well as “customer top picks.”
Donatella elevates the consumer’s experience by pairing each product with original and light-hearted content: easy recipes, insider tips and tricks, personal stories, and how-to guides, so people feel more comfortable and confident in the kitchen.
In the past 2 years Donatella has added designer to her talents with the Launch of her home entertaining line COLLECTION she designed for high end catalog Frontgate. Her collections which premiered have sold out every collection.
Donatella is a wife to world renowned heart surgeon, Dr. Allan Stewart and mom to 5-year old Alessandro. They have appeared on NY Med: an ABC documentary series that followed medical staff and patients of Columbia University Medical Center. Donatella and her family live in New York, cultivating a balanced life, devouring every moment with her own spirited style.