Born and raised in Salerno, a stone’s throw from the Amalfi coast in southwestern Italy, Serena discovered her passion for food when she was very young. Growing up in a family with a vegetarian and a meat eater, she soon learned the basics of the Mediterranean diet that she fostered through extensive traveling and experimenting in her mother and grandmother’s kitchen. Serena’s upbringing was that of a Renaissance woman she studied Ballet and Piano, while getting straight As in Ancient Literature, Philosophy, Latin and Greek. Even though her father wanted her to become a doctor to follow the family tradition, Serena soon decided she would be an attorney: she attended prestigious “Federico II” University School of Law (Naples, Italy) and graduated summa cum laude with a JD in Italian Law in 2001. Recruited by a top ten US-based international law firm with offices in Rome, Italy, Serena started her career as a junior associate in the Corporate Group, gaining broad exposure to the US financial services industry.
In 2004 she was awarded a Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholarship and moved to the United States to continue her education at New York University School of Law with a Masters of Law in Corporate Law and Securities Regulation. After graduation, Serena’s talents as an International Corporate Lawyer gained her access to corporate America. Working for several prominent law firms, Serena established herself as a seasoned professional and a trusted advisor for legal and non-legal matters, including sharing her recipes with several coworkers. It is said that she might be responsible for a couple of marriages, too.
In September 2008 she married her fiance Kurt with a beautiful wedding in Ravello, Italy, proving that the way to a man’s heart really goes through his stomach. Coming back from a relaxing honeymoon in Tahiti, Serena adapted to cooking for two and entertaining for many in a small Manhattan apartment.
The financial crisis and a reduced workload allowed Serena to focus on her passion for cooking. Having had previous experience in various in independent movies, television and film both in Italy and in the US, she decided to create a series of instructional webisodes called "Cooking In Manhattan". The webisodes’ goal is to teach how to prepare great food within the confines of a small urban kitchen. Little did Serena know that what started as a joke would become a Youtube sensation gaining thousands of viewers in just a few months.
Cooking in Manhattan opened the door to international notoriety for Serena as she appeared on Food2, CNN, BBC and as one of the finalists on The Next Food Network Star Season 6. A new position as In-house counsel for a prominent Italian Bank allows her to divide her time equally among the legal work, her at kitchen studio and her blog where she shares her recipes and gives travel and fashion advice. Serena uses the exposure provided by her adventure on the Food Network to give back and help others: she is partnering with Days of Taste to raise awareness of childhood obesity and nutrition and with the American Cancer Society to raise funds for research.
Serena lives in New York City with her husband Kurt, also known as the “Pirate of the Hudson River”, but she goes back to Italy for work and play often and travels around the world to bring more recipes and advice to her viewers.
Serena’s series of webisodes “Cooking in Manhattan” started as joke to a friend who could not cook (and sadly still can’t) and was the first step on Serena’s road to stardom. In her “Homemade show about homemade food” Serena takes the viewer for a romp in her orange kitchen and teaches how to prepare a delicious meal with simple ingredients and limited equipment. While giving the viewer a little bit of the historical background of her recipes, Serena proves that good food can be cooked even in the constraints of a small urban kitchen.
In 2010, Serena was recruited among the 12 finalists on the highest rated show on the Food Network: The Next Food Network Star, Season 6. Serena, the only finalist from Italy to date, was one of the most popular finalists on the show.
Overcoming the stigma of being a home cook with her fun-loving and determined nature, Serena served her food to the selection committee (Susie Fogelson, Bob Tuschman and Bobby Flay) and to many guest chefs such as Wolfgang Puck, Jonathan Waxman, Eric Greenspam, Susan Fenigar, Duff Goldman, Paula Deen, Ted Allen, Giada de Laurentiis, Guy Fieri and many more. She was often praised for the creative approach to traditional Italian Food and the unbeatable work ethic, along with the teamwork and leadership skills.