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Food unites people. In my family, the kitchen is the most trafficked room at home; it is a sanctuary for deep discussion, sidesplitting stories, and, most importantly, a endless buffet of “family famous” snacks. Without question, my most beloved memories were made in the kitchen surrounded by my family at home.

If you must know, I grew up nestled coolly between a spicy Italian father and a tangy Creole mother. As you can imagine, my family was never lacking in passion and flavor. In our kitchen, every dish had two main essential components: (1) the first bite has to strike your senses, and (2) the main ingredient must be pasta. At our table, a pasta dish was both the main course and the conversation starter; it was one of the few meals that I knew would fill me up both inside and out.

I’ve long known of the power of pasta. Like a siren’s song, it has a very unique ability to bring your loved ones to your table. Pasta allows you the freedom to express yourself – it’s a versatile vessel to support your wildest culinary creations. I was over the moon when Barilla contacted me about participating in their Passion for Pasta initiative. Building off the idea that pasta brings people together and reminds us what its like to do things we are passionate about with people we love, Barilla encouraged me to try fuel my passion for life by checking off a bucket list item.

So what item did I pick? I opted for the chance to fly a helicopter. I’ve had a fascination with helicopters since I was young, but it was only last year that I took my first flight (over New York City) in a helicopter. Early yesterday morning, my best friend Anthony and I made our way to Sky Manor Airport in Pittstown, New Jersey, where we learned to fly. Our instructor, Marshall, couldn’t have been more spectacular – and more so, patient – with us as we navigated high above rural New Jersey.

Overall, it was such a wonderful experience. I don’t often get to stop and engage myself in activities that not only excite but also educate me. The best part about passion projects like this is that your passion is instantly refueled. I’ll certainly head back out for a second (or third or fourth…) ride as soon as I can! And don’t think I missed out on refueling with a big bowl of pasta immediately after. I opted for my favorite tomato and olive dish.

So, what’re you passionate about? I encourage each of you to pursue an item from your bucket list – which would you pick? Life is so much better when you lead with passion. Well, passion… and pasta.


This post was sponsored by Passion for Pasta. All opinions contained within are my own and do not reflect the views of the company. If you’re interested in learning more about Barilla’s Passion For Pasta campaign, click here.

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