Mary Ann Esposito ’64

While Mary Ann Esposito ’64, who graduated from Rosary Hill College (now Daemen College) with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education, was a history teacher for a time, she never thought she would be instructing millions of people in the art of Italian cooking.

“When I was a student, if you had told me I’d be the host of the longest-running, continuous cooking show on television, I would have choked on two meatballs,” she laughs.

That show is “Ciao Italia,” first served up by Esposito in 1989 and now attracting more than 1.2 million viewers per episode on PBS. In addition to teaching on the show, she has written 13 cookbooks, with her latest volume, “Ciao Italia: My Lifelong Food Adventures in Italy,” released this November.

Esposito says the new book, as the title implies, covers a lifetime of her countless visits to the many regions of Italy. She points out that there is no such thing as “Italian” food, as there are so many different regions — 20 total — each with its own distinct recipes and food traditions. Esposito’s new book brings together her regional food experiences in Italy and includes 160 recipes. She describes the book as a capstone to her many other works.

Esposito grew up one of seven children in a traditional Italian family surrounded by relatives who were always cooking, including her maternal grandmother from Naples, Italy. that is where the cooking seed was planted. She credits her alma mater for giving her the educational foundation that she has relied on throughout her career.

“I received a superior college education, and the fact that I am a strong communicator comes directly from my time in college,” says Esposito, who resides with her husband in New Hampshire and has two adult children.