Tom De Paolo is the author of four cookbooks, all written after his 75th birthday. That’s because he didn’t learn to cook until he was 78. We interviewed him at his beachfront home on a lovely cove in South Laguna where he has lived for 30 years.
Gracious and charming, he seems surprisingly youthful for his 81 years.
He regaled us with stories of his large Italian family in Roseland, N.J. As a small boy visiting his grandmother, he remembers there was always a house full of people. It was quite common to have at least 15 at every meal. His grandmother did nothing but cook. After breakfast she went shopping for lunch, and after lunch she shopped for dinner. Everything had to be fresh.
He attributes his love of wine to the tiny thimbleful he was given as a child, so he could participate in the toast that began every meal. Of course, at the time, he really didn’t like it. Then, as he grew older he realized that his grandfather’s homemade wine was “really rather dreadful.”