by Cheree Boteler
Donna Amato had no idea that her first-place wins at the Nevada State Fair in 1996 and again in 2010 would become something much, much bigger. After her second win, she decided to capitalize on her well-known local reputation and follow her dream of turning her love for cooking into a career. This brave and exciting decision became Amato’s Family Kitchen.
Donna credits local support as one of the many reasons for her continued success and states, “You will be pleasantly surprised at how many people will choose your products over others simply because you are local!! Shoppers are so willing to support locals.”
Donna’s late husband brought her to Nevada in 1978. His best friend, Bill Harrah, had tried to get them to Nevada for years and sadly only got his wish after he passed away. The Amato’s decided to move to Nevada while they were here for his funeral and continued to live in Reno from 1978 to 1996. Business and family responsibilities brought them back to Los Angeles for several years. However, after her parents and husband passed away, Donna decided to move back to Reno. She says, “It was the best thing I’ve ever done. I absolutely love living in Reno!”
Family & Friendships
Donna first learned how to cook from her mother and then from her Italian grandmother who immigrated to Rochester, New York from Melfi, Italy. Donna’s grandmother brought with her incredible family recipes that continue to be handed down from generation to generation. Donna’s old world Italian home-style cooking was enhanced by sharing the kitchen with her Sicilian mother-in-law.
Amato’s Family Kitchen started at home and has grown so much that, in 2018, Donna decided to reach out to her friends, Val & Sal, owners of The Biggest Little Commercial Kitchen in Gardnerville, for production and order fulfillment assistance. “I cooked, myself, for 10 years before reaching this point just before Christmas 2018,” said Donna. “This partnership now allows me to do more events, which I love, because I get to meet our clients and hear their wonderful stories of how they use our products and how their families enjoy them. It makes my heart warm to hear what they share with me.”
Donna’s son, Vincenzo Amato, is the head of marketing for the company and her daughter, Samantha Amato, is a lawyer here in Reno but you are sure to see her with her Mom, selling Amato’s Family Kitchen products, at many events around town.
Quality Products, Innovative Uses
Amato’s Family Kitchen uses local vendors and products whenever they can and are proud to have the “Made in Nevada” logo on all of their products. All of their jarred products are chemical and additive free. Donna has heard from several pregnant ladies who say that they think this is the reason they can keep Amato’s Family Kitchen products down when their tummies are so upset.
In addition to conventional uses, Donna was surprised to find out that local chef’s use Amato’s Family Kitchen products in more unique ways. Such as sauces with meats, wild game, fish, cheese, poured over cheesecake and ice cream, stirred into yogurt, rimmed on alcoholic drinks, an ingredient in cookies and cakes, added to a BBQ sauce, and even a condiment for oatmeal.
Amato’s Family Kitchen products can be found at Williams Sonoma at The Summit, Bistro Napa at Atlantis, Napa Sonoma (North & South), Buy Nevada First, The Hub’s Coffee & Tea Bar, Reno Envy, Home Means Nevada, Community Roots and Shoots, The Urban Market, We Olive and Wine Bar, Old Stone House Gift & Garden, Sparks Flag Store, The Sierra Chef in Genoa, Nevada, Café at Adele’s in Carson City, Nevada, The Red Door in Toluca Lake, California and Liberty Sports Bar & Grill in Mammoth Lakes, California.