A Taste of Italy

By Nicole Renard
Distinguished Young Woman of America for 2013

As promised, here is a little taste of my experience with Filippo Milone. One of the nights I was in Mobile, Megan and I were invited to Filippo’s house to cook up one feisty meal. Filippo is a world renowned chef (he’s even friends with Wolfgang Puck!), so I could not believe he wanted to share some of his cooking knowledge with me. We started off with the antipasto, which consisted of salami, prosciutto, smoked salmon, olives and artichokes. His wife, Gail, made an amazing soup that was made with carrots, ginger, onions, sweet potatoes and probably a few more amazing things that I don’t know how to pronounce. That was topped with honey glazed walnuts. Mmmm.

Thanks to Filippo, I learned how to properly dice an onion, peel asparagus, the proper consistency of a sauce and how to make his famous risotto, which is my all time favorite in the whole world. (He let me take the left overs home for lunch the next day)

The main course was duck a l’orange with asparagus and risotto. Intense? Yes. It was such a wonderful experience though because he invited a few of his friends over, so I ended up with an audience and lots of people to talk to at dinner. For dessert Gail prepared the most delicious Tiramisu. Yum, yum and yum.

While the duck was cooking, Filippo showed me his cookbook collection including the one he published. As I was staring in awe at all of his accomplishments, I asked him how he got to where he is in life and he said something I will never forget.

“Because you have the drive to succeed. Do not settle for second best. There is only one best. Número uno.”

I thought this was such an inspirational thing to say and something we can apply to our every day lives. Find that one thing that keeps you going toward your dream and hang on to it. Let that motivate you each day to propel you to success. In order to be your best you have to have the drive to succeed and want to be there in the first place. No one else is going to make it happen. You are the only one that can do it. Don’t give up on yourself half way through and settle for second best. Go all the way, win the race and be the número uno. This life is yours just as much as it is anyone else’s, so take your opportunity and make it your own. Win your race and be your absolute best self every single day. It’s easy to be normal and settle for mediocre, but why waste your life trying to be like the rest of the world? Challenge yourself, work hard and watch yourself reach heights you never knew existed. Be the número uno.

Top: Filippo, Nicole and Gail
Bottom: Nicole and the dinner party guests

Love always,


Nicole Renard is a college freshman at Chapman University in Orange, California majoring in TV Broadcast Journalism. Originally from Kennewick, Washington, Nicole was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Washington for 2013 and the Distinguished Young Woman of America for 2013. Learn more about Nicole here!

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