Posted by: debrakolkka | August 2, 2011

Meet Angelo, my first husband

Angelo the chef

Angelo comes from the tiny village of S’Agata sui due Golfi. It sits high on a hill between Sorrento and Positano in southern Italy, pretty close to heaven really. I met him nearly 40 years ago and I briefly lived in S’Agata too.

He has lived in Australia since 1974 and has only once been back to visit his family. He is the youngest of 7 children. Some of his brothers and a sister still live in the village. I have visited them a few times and it feels as though I never left when I sit at the kitchen table with Agata and Maria and their children. These children were actually children when I was there all those years ago. Now they are middle aged like me, with grown children of their own.

I am doing this post so that his family can see him and a little of what he does. He has become a very successful and popular chef in Brisbane and the Gold Coast. He will soon retire and perhaps go back to Italy.

I went to visit him at Va Bene, the restaurant in Brisbane where he works and he rustled up some yummy food for me.


chopping the mushrooms

These were quickly pan fried and plated to wait patiently for the steak to be ready.

the mushroom base

doesn't this look delicious?

 As well as cooking the steak, he had the sauce for some gnocchi bubbling away and the gnocchi steaming in a big pot.

gnocchi sauce

cooking the gnocchi

all in together

Angelo probably learned to cook at his mother’s knee. He was quite a lot younger than the others and spent lots of time with her while the others were at school or work.


 Take a look at the finished dishes.


Yum! again

Angelo with his kitchen mates, Robert and Ignatious

Angelo in his kitchen

 If I close my eyes and listen to Angelo speak, he still has black hair and I am 19 and living far away from home in a small village in Italy.

This is for Maria, Agata, Rosa, Annamaria and all the others in S’Agata. I’m coming to see you in October.

Click here to meet some of the family and see a beautiful part of the coast near S’Agata.


  1. Delightful post. Love his cooking. Yum indeed.

    • Thanks, it was delicious.

  2. Deb, amazing, you should add a couple of photos of when you were both married. I recently suggested Va Bene for a story for the new mag I am writing for, now I know some more I will persue it.

    • I have no photos of the wedding. We were married at the Comune in Massa Lubrense and there were no photos. Let Angelo know that you know me when to go to Va Bene.

  3. It looks delicious! I can only imagine how popular he must be!

    • He is a very popular chef and does a great job in the kitchen. He can be a lot of fun too.

  4. Deb – Wonderful to again see Angelo, the gentle soul! Nifta

  5. How many husbands have you had Zsa Zsa Gabor?? I love that restaurant but it has moved from Broadbeach… where to????
    It was lovely to see you & Liz on Saturday night. We must catch up for a Saturday brekky again…… e dobbiamo parlare solo Italiano….

    • I’m just working through my second one now. Va Bene is in the Windsor Hotel, near the Royal Brisbane Hospital, where I was born. I’m not sure that it was ever at Broadbeach.

  6. yum yum yum…that looks DELICIOUS!!! Angelo is a QT!!!

    • I’m sure he would be happy to hear that.

  7. What a joy you bring for Angelo’s family. They will be so happy to see this post.

    • Rosa and her son will know how to show the others the blog. I hope they like it.

  8. You actually let a good chef like that go Debra?? You must have gone off you food at the time LOL.

    • He wasn’t a chef all those years ago, he didn’t really start cooking until he came to Australia. He has done very well here. I have never been off my food.

  9. Great story, Debra! Good to see that you have been able to keep the links with your Italian family. And the food looks terrific!

    • I try to keep in touch with Angelo’s family. They were very good to me when I was there. He is a great cook.

  10. Debra, what a lovely post. I can’t even imagine what it would have been like married at 19 and living in a small Italian village. I suspect there are many stories to be listened to.
    Gorgeous looking gnocchi, I’m always a sucker for a plateful.

    • It was not easy! There were great bits, but I came back to Australia. The gnocchi was excellent.

  11. How nice for you to share a piece of your past with us! Angelo’s food looks wonderful.

    • He is a great cook. He was very nervous about the whole thing and it was difficult to get a smile. I had to sneak up on him.

  12. OH MY GOD! HIs food looks fantastic!!!
    What a nice tribute to his family.

    • I think they will be happy.

  13. not sure why my previous comment came up as Anon…?

  14. I loved reading this post and getting to meet Angelo! The food of course looks wonderful!

    • The food from southern Italy is wonderful, and this is reflected in the way Angelo cooks.

  15. Oh he really was your first husband? What a story! I’d love to see some photos of the both of you!

    • Angelo was my first husband. We were married in Italy 38 years ago. I have no photos of us, but there is one somewhere of Angelo when he was very young and very beautiful. I will search for it.

  16. Great post! This post has got everything in it: personal history, travel and wonderful looking food.

    Congrats on the Blogger of the Month award!

    • Thank you. We got that for the Beautiful Helsinki post. It was a lovely surprise.

  17. How lovely for Angelo’s family to see this post. I was wondering what on earth Angelo would have made of the food available in Aus in 1974 – things have changed so much since then. I’ll ask my last husband if he will take me to Va Bene.

    • PS – congratulations on the award!

      • Thanks.

    • I think Angelo arrived after the flood. I can’t remember what month he arrived. I came first and he came a bit later.

  18. Lovely food Debra…. but wait a minute, he was your husband? and you are talking about him with no anger or hard feelings?
    I admire you!!!!

    • We have not been together for a long time. Angelo is a very nice man and I wish him well.

  19. This is a beautiful post. (And the food looks delicious!)

    • It was very delicious.

  20. Okay I am starving now! What an amazing post, on so many levels.

  21. I was very disappointed. We called in there to have lunch yesterday. We had not booked and were turned away. It seems they only cater for their guests who are attending the seminars at the venue.

    • I don’t think they do lunch any more, but I think they are open for dinner Monday to Friday.

  22. […] here to see my earlier story about Angelo. LD_AddCustomAttr("AdOpt", "1"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Origin", […]

  23. Vcs tiveram filhos? Vc poderia contar um pouco sobre a sua vida naquela pequena aldeia. E vc casou novamente?

  24. I have a post card of a tree lined lane in S. Agata dating back to the 2nd world war when my father was serving with the 8th Army in Italy.
    He notes on the back “Just a small spot of beauty around here”
    Looking at all the present day pictures, I try to imagine what he saw and how much or little has changed since those days, but I do know he loved the local red wine! What he thought of the food I don’t know but it must have been better than army rations!

    • I would love to see that postcard! It probably doesn’t look much different from the S’Agata I knew in 1972, but would be vastly different from S’Agata today. It is a very busy little town which sits between Sorrento and Positano and is now a holiday destination in its own right.

  25. […] To see more of my past life in southern Italy, click here and here. […]

  26. Hey Debra, I just chanced upon this post while reading your blog. I am not sure whether to ask him but is he your husband? Life takes strange turns doesn’t it. Glad you have a friendship that made you write this post!

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