Italy’s Universal Woman crown goes to DiTommaso

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“First we eat, and then we do everything else.”

That’s a mantra for Briana DiTommaso, who was crowned Universal Woman Italy 2023. She also believes in working hard and not letting obstacles stand in your way.

DiTommaso, 41, is the executive chef and winemaker for her family’s vineyard, Valentino Vineyards, in Long Grove, Illinois, where she lives with her three children and her life partner. She is also a partner and head winemaker for the wine company Provocativo.

Over the years, DiTommaso has opened several restaurants in suburban Chicago, including Mambo Italiano in Mundelein, which she owned and operated for more than 18 years. The restaurant was featured on the local TV show “Check, Please!” and earned a Readers’ Choice award from the Daily Herald newspaper.

DiTommaso grew up with homemade food, making fresh sauce with tomatoes from the garden and cooking fresh eggs from her family’s chickens.

“I absolutely love food. I truly love the art of it and the endless possibilities,” she says. “I feel that I can be myself and create something so meaningful that will touch others not only by nourishing them, but by exciting their taste buds.”

DiTommaso explains that she entered the Universal Woman pageant for her family, particularly her daughters. “I loved the concept of inclusivity of the pageant and that all contestants were so diverse,” she says. “It was amazing being around so many strong and supportive women. I have made friends for life.”


About Elena Ferrarin

Elena Ferrarin is a native of Rome who has worked as a journalist in the United States since 2002. She has been a correspondent for Fra Noi for more than a decade. She previously worked as a reporter for The Daily Herald in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, The Regional News in Palos Heights and as a reporter/assistant editor for Reflejos, a Spanish-English newspaper in Arlington Heights. She has a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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