Meet Sugar


My name is Arlene but my family calls me “Sugar”. You can call me Sugar too. I’m in my late forties, a wife and mother of two young adults. My passion for food comes from generations of cooks and I want to pass it on to everyone around me. It’s kind of like an obsession!

I grew up in a large Italian family in northern New Jersey where our life revolved around food. My love and passion for good food started with my Mom, Gloria, her mom, “Grandma Reo,” and her sister (my great aunt) Rosie. Grandma Reo, a second generation Italian American, owned a deli for over 50 years in Union City, New Jersey named, appropriately enough, “Reo’s.”

My mother and my aunts learned a lot about cooking at Grandma Reo’s deli and in her kitchen. Grandma Reo and Aunt Rosie (literally born “on the boat” on the way from Italy to Ellis Island), cooked all the food they served each day.

In fact, all they ever talked about was food. When we were eating, we talked about what we were going to eat tomorrow and when we were cooking we were talking about what we were going to cook tomorrow. I think some people cook to live, but Italians live to cook.

The kitchen was a place where the women of the family, with the help of the kids and even, occasionally, the men, would prepare, cook, and eat. It was an event, a joy, a time for family. A celebration of life. So different from the perception of food that I see so often among men and women of my own generation.

Well, my mom carried on that tradition and became the matriarch of food in my own family teaching me everything I know, even while she worked full time. Every Thanksgiving and every Sunday (and many Wednesdays), my mother’s foods, desserts and special menus were the talk of the town and the attraction for family and strangers alike. It was her passion that sparked my own love for food as a teenager and into adulthood. I am hoping that I can pass even a fraction of it on to my own daughter.

I started Cooking with Sugar to share these traditions with my own kids and with you. Enjoying and cooking fresh food for and with your family every day is my secret recipe for a happy marriage, a health family and a fit body.

Cooking is fun. Cooking is sexy. Cooking is good for you.  Let’s get cooking