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Denise Vivaldo
A seasoned food professional¬ with over 28 years of experience, Denise Vivaldo has catered more than 10,000 parties and has cooked for such guests as George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Prince Charles, Bette Midler, Suzanne Somers, Merv Griffin, Cher, Aaron Spelling, Sly Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Maria Shriver. She began her culinary training at the Ritz Escoffier and La Varenne in Paris, and then graduated Chef de Cuisine from the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. Denise spent numerous years as a professor at UCLA’s Culinary Program and at her Alma Mater, The California Culinary Academy.

In 1988, Denise founded Food Fanatics, a catering, recipe-development, and food-styling firm based in Los Angeles, California. Since that time, she has catered for such events as the Academy Awards Governor’s Ball, Sunset Magazine’s Taste of Sunset, and Hollywood wrap parties. She has also styled food for countless local and nationally syndicated television shows such as The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, NapaStyle with Michael Chiarello, and Access Hollywood Live with Billy Bush. In 2012, Denise sold the trademark name Food Fanatics. Offering the same services and more, the Denise Vivaldo Group, Inc. was launched.

Denise is the author of How to Start a Home-Based Catering Business, which has sold more than 150,000 copies and is in its 6th edition, and How to Start a Home-Based Personal Chef Business. She is also the author of The Food Styling Handbook, Perfect Table Settings, Do It For Less! Parties, Do It For Less! Weddings, The Entertaining Encyclopedia, and Top 100 Step-By-Step Napkin Folds. In addition to books, Denise is a contributing blogger for the Huffington Post as well as her own blog, Denise Vivaldo Blogs.

Denise is passionate about passing on what she has learned. She founded the Culinary Entrepreneurship Program and she teaches catering and food styling seminars and workshops across the country and internationally.

Denise has been a featured guest on a variety of television networks and shows including Good Day L.A., At Home with Lisa Quinn on Live Well Network, ABC Morning News, the Japanese Drama Channel, The Food Network, Home & Garden Network, TV Guide Channel, SoapNet, Lifetime TV, and TV Land.

As a consultant, Denise assists companies to better their products. Clients include The Meyer Corporation, Hamilton Beach, QVC, Hunt-Wesson/ConAgra, Euro Direct, Hy-vee, Capital Brands, Future Kitchen Technologies, Bradshaw International, the Canned Food Alliance, the California Avocado Board, the Hass Avocado Board, The Milk Advisory Board, Disney, and Mann’s Chinese Theater.

As a food stylist, Denise’s clients include: The Good Cook, Trader Joe’s, Vertical Sales and Marketing, Fresh & Easy, Bristol Farms, Sharkey’s Restaurants, Rosti Tuscan Kitchens, Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Restaurants, Panda Inn, Foster’s Freeze, Daphne’s Greek Café, Exy Restaurant, Norm’s Restaurants, Cacique USA, Morongo Casino, Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino, Tulalip Casino, the California Avocado Board, the Hass Avocado Board, Disney Celebration Center, Beach Bodies, Infantimo, The Magic Bullet, The Food Network, Access Hollywood, Good Day LA, Fox Live, KTLA Morning News, Univision, HD Vision Studios, Fast Lane Productions, Bravo, The Ellen Degeneres Show, Eric Ripert, Nigella Lawson, Curtis Stone, The Two Hot Tamales, Rachel Ray, and Michael Chairallo, to name but a few.

Denise has helped many people with their cookbooks, including: Skinny Bitch and Vegan Baking with the Skinny Bitch by Kim Barnouin; Mariel’s Healthy Kitchen by Mariel Hemmingway; The Date Night Cookbook by Meredith Phillips; Somersize Fast and Easy Cookbook, Somersize Desserts, Somersize Chocolate, and Eat, Cheat and Melt the Fat Away, by Suzanne Somers; The Food Mover Cookbook and Steam Away the Pounds! by Richard Simmons; The Calorie Countdown Cookbook by Juan-Carlos Cruz; Eat, Taste, Heal by Dr. Tom Yarema; The 3-Hour Diet Cookbook by Jorge Cruise; and Hey, Mom! I’m Hungry! by Susan Powter.

Visit Denise’s websites for more information:
Culinary consulting services
Food styling and recipe development services for print, TV and web
Food styling classes
Behind-the-scenes look at food styling

Entries by Denise Vivaldo

Halloween Finger Foods

(0) Comments | Posted October 20, 2015 | 11:11 AM

When I was a kid, we didn't have Halloween parties. On Halloween night, my mother would tell us to put on the biggest coat we could find in the hall closet and proclaimed us "Bums."

Sometimes my sisters and I got an old hat and some dirt (actual dirt) and...

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Buche de Noel

(1) Comments | Posted December 10, 2014 | 6:02 PM


One Christmas, I was living in Paris. I had been working as a chef, and graduated from Culinary school in San Francisco, but decided to take additional pastry classes at the Ritz Escoffier (any excuse to get out of town for awhile). In...

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Bringing Back the Manhattan

(0) Comments | Posted October 1, 2014 | 6:06 PM

I grew up drinking Manhattans. At every holiday my Italian grandfather, Louie, would make Manhattans. He had a fancy, gold drink cart with an almost silver ice bucket. Louie made a big deal about making each of us a cocktail. When we were young, my sisters and I got more...

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Inspired to Be Bossy

(3) Comments | Posted March 12, 2014 | 12:19 PM

Sitting down to write a piece about being nominated for the "Women Who Inspire" award from Women Chefs and Restaurateurs, wanting to thank all of the women who have inspired and supported my journey, I overheard someone on the news talking about a new "social" campaign called "Ban Bossy." I...

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Marcella Hazan

(2) Comments | Posted October 2, 2013 | 10:37 AM

In 1983, I was a student at the California Culinary Academy in my hometown of San Francisco. Against the advice of my mother (and just about everyone else), I enrolled and started my chef studies. I was 33, the age Jesus died on the cross. I often miss big signs...

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The Green Room and Thomas Keller

(2) Comments | Posted April 29, 2013 | 1:12 PM

Last week was the International Association of Culinary Professionals conference in San Francisco. If you weren't there, I'm sorry. If you make your living in food, you really can't afford not to go. Much like if you make films and aren't invited to Cannes, you need a new...

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Letting Go Of The Rope

(4) Comments | Posted March 27, 2013 | 1:10 PM

I grew up the youngest of three girls. Naturally, we share our family memories, often differently, and when I'm with my sisters, long forgotten remembrances will crop up: My mother hanging the bunch of bananas on a string in her kitchen because when you hang the bananas, they don't bruise...

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Let's Be Decent.

(9) Comments | Posted November 5, 2012 | 9:55 AM

I grew up with a father that had served in World War II. He was a flight instructor in the Army Air Corps. He was 26, newly married to my mother, and stationed in Deming, New Mexico. It was his first time away from home.

My father did not...

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I Feel Bad for My Vagina

(49) Comments | Posted September 11, 2012 | 3:33 PM

I happen to love my vagina. We have been through thick and thin together. The great, the good, the average and the occasional nights we never speak of. Ever.

Now that we are 60, which is the new 40, we both feel we have a lot of great years...

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A Road Trip for Julia

(7) Comments | Posted August 15, 2012 | 8:50 AM

The day Julia Child died, her assistant and my friend of many years, Stephanie Hersh, came to spend the night at my home. She had answered a thousand emails verifying that Julia was dead, and simply wanted to get out of Santa Barbara. I made Stephanie a turkey burger for...

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Frying Chicken

(18) Comments | Posted July 13, 2012 | 6:19 PM

I grew up in a traditional Italian family. My mother did the day-to-day cooking and my father would roast a turkey or duck every holiday. They were both excellent cooks. We ate fresh vegetables from my grandfather's garden, soft polenta, handmade pastas and lots of antipasti. Colorful dishes heaped with...

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Missing My Mother

(4) Comments | Posted May 10, 2012 | 5:41 PM

It took years after my mother's death before I could dream about her. In my dreams now, she's in her 50s and still incredibly beautiful. We are usually laughing or shopping or cooking in her kitchen.

I'm not sure why it took my mother so long to come back...

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(7) Comments | Posted April 19, 2012 | 3:52 PM


I own at least one thousand cookbooks. I love each one I keep. I am sent at least thirty new cookbooks by authors, publishers and PR agents per year in the hopes that I will review their books. I usually don't because I know...

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Culinary School: 'He Told Me Women Can't Be Chefs'

(20) Comments | Posted March 14, 2012 | 11:10 AM

I was thirty-three and going to culinary school in 1984. There were only a handful of girls in my school of three hundred students. Ninety-eight percent of the students were male and all of the instructors were male. The crème de la crème of the chefs were French. There were...

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Monsanto, Planned Parenthood and Ellen

(20) Comments | Posted February 10, 2012 | 2:01 PM

I have several paying gigs and deadlines that I should be working on but with all the shit storms of last week, I can't focus on "sharing" my favorite chocolate dessert. Like that's what America needs today. Recycle your food magazines from last February; those articles and recipes will still...

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Paula Deen and the Slippery Slope

(11) Comments | Posted January 18, 2012 | 5:13 PM

Okay, I'm jumping into the fray. I want to go on record first thing by saying that I have never met Paula Deen. I did get a call from her team years ago, but I was booked.

I have never watched her show for more then 10 minutes in all...

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Italian Flying Turkeys

(2) Comments | Posted December 20, 2011 | 12:35 PM

You don't have a choice; you're either born Italian or you're not. I thought all people were like us. It was years before I found out that my family was different from most.

Growing up, churches, schools, and stores were all Italian. Social gatherings were spent with other Italians....

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Kitchen Communion

(1) Comments | Posted November 16, 2011 | 9:06 PM

The hardest thing about being Italian is finding a house that has big enough closets to save everything you have to save. There are so many things you just cannot throw out. The nagging fear that you will need a particular item at some time in the future stops you....

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Cut Your Turkey

(3) Comments | Posted November 1, 2011 | 3:00 PM

Years ago, I cooked for one of the richest men in the world. He had been a catering client who then asked me to come to work for him full time as his private chef. His peeps offered me a big bag of money, health benefits, and even stock options...

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Linda Evans Is Even Better Than Krystle

(7) Comments | Posted October 13, 2011 | 10:59 AM

Last Saturday, I never got out of bed. I didn't want to and I didn't have to. I fed my doggies, grabbed my tea, and dove back into bed with my review copy of Recipes for Life: My Memories, by Linda Evans.

I devoured every page. What...

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