An Open Letter to Giovanni LiDestri, also known as my Dad.
I always loved to hear the story—our family legend, really—of how you came to this country as a fourteen-year-old immigrant. It’s a story that was always full of mystery.
Today, as a proud member of this company, I’m finally beginning to understand it.
At the age of 17, you started working for Uncle Santi at Ragu. Together, you were part of helping that brand become a true success story. I grew up watching you take what you’d learned and apply it—with passion and determination—to your own American dream.
As I grew up, we endlessly cooked and sampled your sauce. We compared—sometimes with Ragu, sometimes Prego, sometimes even Nona’s. We sought feedback. We redeveloped. It was all to fulfill your dream: bring a ladle full of Sicilian tradition not just to this country, but to every plate!
One night, you walked through the door, ready to share what was the beginning of our brand. Francesco Rinaldi was the name. You showed me a navy blue label with a stunning woman front and center. She was called Madonna, “my lady” in Italian. She’s a realistic depiction of the many strong, hard-working and gorgeous women in our family. To me, she was –and is—absolute perfection.
I always wondered: why Francesco Rinaldi? Why not Giovanni LiDestri? You always said it was because that trademark already existed. Now, of course, I know better. It had much more to do with your humility than any trademark issue. Today I can say that although illusory, Francesco Rinaldi and Madonna are as much a part of our family as any relative from the old country.
Dad, I’ve had more than 40 years to unravel the mysteries of our Mediterranean story. And now I get to continue it. Thanks for showing me what it means to celebrate life. For teaching me not to be afraid to work my tush off. And most of all, for making your— our—American dream come true.