Caterer Ally Vitella has cooked for the likes of Lady Gaga, Mariah Carey and John Legend.
But Vitella wasn’t only making a living off of parties, she was living off of party food—a lifestyle that led to serious weight gain and poor health.
The 41-year-old mother of two from North Caldwell is one of a dozen overweight food professionals featured on The Food Network’s, Fat Chef. The premise of the new series? If the typical American struggles with obesity, what’s it like for those who work in a kitchen?
Vitella, of Vitella’s Catering based in Lake Hiawatha, was followed by camera crews for 16 weeks while she teamed up with a nutritionist and a physical trainer to drop from a size 28 to a size 16. She has lost a total of 50 pounds to date.
Patch caught up with Vitella at the tail end of a national media blitz timed with the January season premiere. The episode featuring Vitella airs Thursday, Feb. 9, at 10 p.m.
“It was so much fun doing the interviews. I’m kind of sad that it’s ending,” she said.
Fat Chef was a good fit for the busy working mom and her family.
“It was really appealing to me because I wasn’t going to have to go to a fat camp anywhere,” she said. “It was going to work around my life.”
Indeed, the show for the most part was filmed locally. Vitella joined Get Fit in Fairfield and trained with Cornel Hunt.
“He was only required to work out with me like three days a week, but Cornel [Hunt] worked out with me six days a week twice a day.”
In addition, scenes were shot at her home and at in Caldwell.
A nutritionist, Christine Avanti, author of Skinny Girls Eat Real Food, taught her the fundamentals of healthy cooking—no frying, fresh foods, low carbs—and good eating habits—sticking to a regiment, sitting down to eat and pre-planning meals.
“I really had to relearn how to cook in a whole new way,” said the caterer, who trained in “Italian Boot Camp” with her husband’s grandmother and mother.
While Vitella has struggled with weight her whole life, the extra pounds really started coming on when she began working in a kitchen about 10 years ago.
Vitella’s Catering, which she runs with her husband, Franco, is known for producing food for lavish parties in New York City. They’re particularly famous for their hors d'oeuvres.
“Everything is so damn good,” she said. “The clients are eating one each, and here I was eating them for lunch and dinner.”
She said she wanted to get healthy not just for herself, but for her children, a 7-year-old boy and 9-year-old girl who attend in North Caldwell and play soccer.
“We go on bike rides and long walks,” she said about her new lifestyle. “I think anytime parents are active and play with their kids they think it’s the greatest.”
While she’s willing to serve homemade chicken nuggets, she joked about having to draw the line somewhere. She refuses to give up bread and pasta altogether, and still squirms at the thought of natural peanut butter.
Vitella has been compared to Paula Deen. Like the celebrity chef, she has Type 2 Diabetes, which was discovered during a health screening on the show.
But she’s come a long way in the last four months—Vitella is introducing a new healthy line this month and has inspired family and friends.
“A lot of people saw me get fit and thought, ‘Well, I should do that, too.’”