This week we're talking with Anette Bellisari Johnson from Bellisari's gourmet spreads for Feature Friday!
What’s the story behind your business and how did you get started?
What is Bellisari’s? The age-old question of defining who we are. In a word… we are family. We are aunts, uncles, mothers, brothers, and friends gathered around the kitchen island, sharing life and love. We are listening to Grandpa tell the same stories he’s told for years. We are laughing at Dad’s famed secret ingredient (the secret is sage, but no one has the heart to tell him we all know). We are laughter and good food.
We are passion: Passion for simple, bold ingredients that let the flavors shine, passion for creativity in the kitchen, and passion for culinary combinations that make it all too easy to celebrate any occasion.
We created Bellisari’s with a distinct vision of togetherness. We wanted to create high-quality products our whole family can be proud of. With a few secret ingredients for a unique taste, but with a familiar feeling that takes you back to that kitchen island. Our food wants you to feel surrounded by warmth, stories, delicious smells, memories, and family and friends.
In 2001, I opened a small gourmet retail shop in Old Downtown Upper Arlington called Bellisari’s Italian Market. We offered gourmet prepared foods, wine and cooking classes for both adults and children. It was at Bellisari’s that I could combine my experience in retail with my passion for food. Growing up in an Italian American family, food was such an important part of our culture and our lives, and it still is today. Food to me means bringing family and friends together for any occasion. While teaching cooking classes, it is the importance of these “occasions” that I cherish. I try to encourage others to gather as a family for a meal or around the island simply to be together.
In 2012, I began this role of Director of Product Development for the Annette James Group. As a single mom of two young boys this role was a natural progression in my career. I spend the day doing something that I love, creating gourmet products and recipes. What busy mom wouldn’t love this job? Through the sauces and spreads we're creating, I get to remind our customers that just because we are busy, doesn’t mean it can’t be gourmet. That is why we truly believe in our mission of “Gourmet Convenience.”
What makes your products unique?
We believe it is the “Gourmet Convenience” that our products offer and the unique flavor profiles. Gourmet convenience is not just a slogan for us. It’s a lifestyle that guides every amazing and delicious decision we make at Bellisari’s. To me, gourmet convenience means the marriage of high quality ingredients with unique flavors that have been carefully put together through a passion for food.
As a busy working mom, I try to keep myself sane by surrounding myself with moms who feel as happily exhausted and overwhelmed as I do but love good food. When we meet to talk about a book, a cuisine from a specific country, or even just to have a glass of wine, we all feel the need to bring a dish that is considered “gourmet.” To attend an event with cheese and crackers just doesn’t cut it anymore. Now, you know and I know, that our friends do not care what we bring, as they are just happy to see us. But, it still feels great to show that you really can do it all.
And that is where gourmet convenience comes into play. At Bellisari’s, we strive to make that gourmet appetizer, entrée or even a breakfast something that tastes amazing but doesn’t take a long time or lots of ingredients to prepare. We want you to walk into that party feeling confident that the appetizer you made is absolutely delicious. And no one has to know you made it in five minutes with only three ingredients! Our Burger Sauces and Spreads are here to make you look great and make your friends’ taste buds love you even more. That is what Gourmet Convenience means to us!
What do you like about being part of the Celebrate Local Family?
We love the “Partnership mentality”. Celebrate Local is always there to offer help, support and guidance – all of which are pointed toward helping their vendors become successful. It truly is a mutually beneficial relationship. For the majority of my life I have lived in Ohio and I love the feeling you get when you walk into a Celebrate Local Store- it exemplifies what Ohio culture is and what it means to be Ohio Proud.