My Story: The Making of Bellisari's

Annette Bellisari

I thought I would tell you a little about myself and how I came to be a “foodie.” I graduated with a degree in Business Administration with a minor in Retail Administration. Throughout my early career, I worked for The Limited here in Columbus and Target Stores in South Florida.

In 2001, I went out on my own and opened a small gourmet retail shop in Old Downtown Upper Arlington called Bellisari’s Italian Market. We offered gourmet prepared foods, wine and cooking classes for both adults and children. It was at Bellisari’s that I could combine my experience in retail with my passion for food. Growing up in an Italian American family, food was such an important part of our culture and our lives, and it still is today. Food to me means bringing family and friends together for any occasion. While teaching cooking classes, it is the importance of these “occasions” that I cherish. I try to encourage others to gather as a family for a meal or around the island simply to be together.

In 2012, I began this role of Director of Product Development for the Annette James Group.  As a single mom of two young boys this role was a natural progression in my career. I spend the day doing something that I love, creating gourmet products and recipes. What busy mom wouldn’t love this job? Through the sauces and spreads we're creating, I get to remind our customers that just because we are busy, doesn’t mean it can’t be gourmet. That is why we truly believe in our mission of “Gourmet Convenience.”

When I decided to branch out and start my own business, I went with what I knew from having worked in the food industry and the things I felt strongly about as a mother, daughter, aunt, friend – you get the picture! I have a passion for creativity in the kitchen and for culinary combinations that make it easy to celebrate any occasion. I wanted our products to be versatile enough to stand on their own or be added to any recipe to make it full of flavor. Ultimately in creating Bellisari’s, it was, and still is, my goal to bring people together with good food. To me that means high-quality and unique ingredients that you're proud to serve 

With Bellisari’s, my business partner and I wanted not only to create and sell excellent products, but we also sought to help people gain something we all need more of – the time to gather with loved ones and create those precious memories that are so important. My family, like many, has bonded over food. Not just in the sense of sitting at the kitchen island and talking about our day, but over things like the tradition of passing down recipes and learning tricks that our grandmother used in the kitchen. Growing up with five other siblings and an Italian heritage, we always end up talking about food, comparing recipes, and claiming we are all the “best cook.”

I wanted to create high-quality products with a few secret ingredients for a unique taste, but with a familiar feeling that takes you back to that kitchen island. Our products help you to feel surrounded by warmth, stories, delicious smells, memories, and family and friends. I want you to enjoy restaurant quality food without spending hours in the grocery store or in the kitchen, saving that hard-to-find time to actually spend it with the people you love. This is what our slogan “Gourmet Convenience” is all about. I think it's important to show people that gourmet doesn't have to have the price tag attached or be intimidating. 

I love to educate adults and kids about food, it’s another passion of mine. Every week we post cooking tips, weekly recipes, and how-to videos on our social media pages. We also host Facebook and Instagram live cooking classes for both beginners and skilled chefs. My goal in these classes is to help people be confident in the kitchen. From these events we love hearing about the experiences that our customers have with our products. Even though each jar has a full recipe and wine or beer pairings, people find unique ways to incorporate our gourmet flavors into their own recipes and cooking styles.