Brains and Beauty make a powerful combination. When you add Southern Italian to the mix, watch out ! Serena Palumbo, a native of sunny Salerno, came to the States as a Banking Lawyer, but she could not stay away from her roots too long. She became a big social media celebrity by simply sharing her food with a smile. We all know Italian food is the best, but the cuisine of Campania is among the best of Italy’s 20 regional offerings. She has shared many of her family recipes from her area with the world.
Serena captivated viewers as a finalist on “Food Network Star” and her own Youtube show “Cooking in Manhattan”. Recently, she started Lemonade25, and if this adventure resembles her past projects, it is sure to be a hit. Attention to detail is her forte’. I bet this setnece i ama riting wood drive her CRAZY! Piazza Life was delighted to catch up with Serena.
1) You’re a Banking lawyer by day but your love of food has allowed you to become a social media celebrity. Do you love one more than the other? What made you get into banking law?
I love both equally. My day job is all about being disciplined and diligent. You don’t have room to be creative because you are dealing with the law. My cooking and blogging is where I have fun. I was never big on going to clubs, drinking, and going out. I am much more a creature of habit; I like a good meal, good conversation, and traveling. Lemonade 25 is the celebration of all this and I am really proud of the website as I am of every deal I ever closed as an attorney.
2) Being Italian, especially Southern Italian, food always calls us back to our roots. When making dishes, is it more important to stick to tradition and maybe improvise a bit, or break new barriers?
It’s always a balance. For holidays and events I stick to tradition, but every other day it’s about improvising and being creative. There are my most seasoned and successful recipes but also the combinations that are created from the pantry and they shouldn’t work but they do.
3) Favorite dish to make?
Eggplant Parm, Gnocchi, a classic Roasted Chicken with Potatoes, Tagliatelle alla Bolognese. There are really too many to mention.
4) Least favorite food to cook?
I don’t have a least favorite ingredient or recipe. I improvise a lot so baking is a little tricky, but I do it anyway because nothing makes your house smell better than a nice cake.
5) Last meal before you die?
I’ve had many meals to die for so I would say a sushi dinner from Zuma in Dubai or a 7 course meal at La Madia in Licata, Sicily.
6) 2014 will bring new things. You are set to become a mother. How does it feel? And how are you planning to organize your workaholic schedule? Please tell me because I need help with that too.
My life has always been very busy but I have found the time to do whatever I set my mind to. There will be a lot of organization and scheduling, but I am lucky to have a very supportive husband who is not afraid of washing the dishes and hopefully change a diaper. I also can never see myself not doing the things that I love. Being a good parent means taking care of your child without losing yourself and forgetting who you are
7) Will you raise your child like an Italian? What has changed about you since moving to the States?
I will raise my daughter as an independent thinker, which is something that Italy is sometimes lacking. I will also raise her to enjoy life and take advantage of the many opportunities America has to offer. My 10 years in New York haven’t changed me much: it was my parents’ upbringing and work ethic that made me thrive here and I am proud of where I come from. But they didn’t bring me up as a citizen of Salerno, Italy. I was brought up as a citizen of the world an hopefully I will do the same with my daughter.
8) Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I don’t plan that far in advance, but if I had to make a “guesstimate” I would imagine that in 10 years I am still an attorney and I have a thriving website called Lemonade 25. I also see myself surrounded by family, old and new friends and enjoying the same passions I have today.
9) Your new blog lemonade25 is great. Tell us more about it. Where do you plan to take it?
Lemonade 25 is a curated lifestyle blog. It’s about having it all. We give the readers tips about squeezing one more hour out of every day, whether is by giving you the perfect weekday recipe, suggesting a cookbook that actually works, helping you planning a trip or telling you why you should be watching the hottest show on TV. As opposed to the previous version, this website is more of an ongoing conversation with the readers. I listen to what they are interested in and try to help out in my own way.
10) Your a shoe aficionado. Do you start your outfits first with the shoes or with another item, maybe pants or shirt?
I am more of an investor. I see shoes as a stock: I’d rather buy, and hold (some times for years), so I never buy cheap shoes. I rotate what I wear and take very good care of them. That really applies to everything I buy; I am not a fan of fast fashion. I’d rather keep the clothes, accessories, and shoes I have until I forget how much I paid for them. In terms of styling I have my uniforms, suits for work and more casual outfits for my (very limited) free time. I usually start from color combinations and maybe a scarf or an accessory, then build something that makes sense but is still fun.
11) For a million cash, would you not go to Italy for 10 years?
I have a love/hate relationship with Italy. It’s a beautiful country but what has happened in the past 15 years in the political and social arena irritates me to no end. Still, I don’t think I could avoid going to Italy for 10 years since part of my family lives there.
12) Do you think humans are inherently good or good but flawed and in need of an occasional schiaffo?
Humans are 50% good but the rest is a mixed pot of complicated feelings. Life slaps all of us in the face at some point no matter how good or bad we are. What really matters is that we keep an open mind towards each other.