Is Antonio Russo Based on a Real Person? Did Tembi Locke Really Bring a Cake For Him?

Image Credit: Jessica Brooks/Netflix

Netflix’s ‘From Scratch’ is a story about love, travel, and food, and it charts the swoon-worthy as well as the heartbreaking romance of Amy and Lino. The show takes the audience from the cobblestone streets of Florence to the demanding life of LA to the quaint life of a small Sicilian town. In their travels, the couple has some life-changing experiences, be it their chance to meet on the roads of Florence or do a favor for a stranger in Sicily, which alters the course of Amy’s career in LA. It is awe-inspiring to see someone have such an experience, which makes one wonder if it happened in real life or if it was concocted to serve the drama in the show. Did Tembi Locke and her husband really connect with a stranger over a cake they carried from one continent to another? Let’s find out.

Tembi Locke and Saro Gullo Did Bring a Cake From Sicily

Image Credit: Stefano Montesi/Netflix

Yes! Amusing as it might seem, Locke and her husband really went through the request of a stranger in Sicily to deliver a cake to his relative, whom the couple had never met before. In the show, Amy and Lino are tasked with finding out a man named Antonio Russo and delivering the cake to him. Despite the challenge of finding a complete stranger in LA, they succeed in the task and forge a lasting friendship with Russo. In reality, it was a little easier for the couple to find this stranger in LA because he happened to be a prolific character actor in Hollywood: Vincent Schiavelli.

Following their wedding, when Tembi and Saro were still in Italy, they visited a bakery called Pasticceria al Castello. A baker named Pino worked there, and when he discovered that Saro was from Sicily and Tembi was an actress in America, he made a very unusual request. He was from Polizzi Generosa in Sicily, and the town has a traditional cake. Pino had made it for his relative who lived in Hollywood and wanted the couple to deliver it to him since they, too, lived in LA. Tembi found the idea rather absurd. How could they possibly carry a cake across three continents, holding on to it for days, and then give it to a person they barely knew anything about?

Saro, on the other hand, was happy to do it. Called “journey cake” by Tembi, it was a traditional Sicilian dry cake that could be kept unrefrigerated for up to ten days. So, while Tembi worried that they were carrying something that would be spoilt before it reached the intended person, Saro was convinced otherwise.

Who was Vincent Schiavelli?

Called one of the best character actors of his time in America, Schiavelli was known to play supporting roles in movies like ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’, ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High,’ ‘Ghost,’ ‘Man on the Moon,’ and ‘Batman Returns,’ among others. He was also a food aficionado, penned three cookbooks, and wrote food articles for various publications. One of his books, ‘Many Beautiful Things: Stories and Recipes from Polizzi Generosa’, talks about the cuisine of the town whose cake connected him to Tembi and Saro.

Schiavelli’s grandfather was from Polizzi Generosa, and the actor visited him from time to time. So, when Pino discovered that there might be a way to send Schiavelli a taste of home, he jumped at the opportunity. Luckily, Saro agreed to it. Once back in LA, the couple got in touch with the actor, who then visited their house to collect the cake. He and Saro took a picture with the cake, and Tembi kept it as a remembrance of an extraordinary experience.

Schiavelli died in December 2005 of lung cancer. He was at his home in Polizzi Generosa, among his people and the food that he cherished so much. He was buried at Polizzi Generosa Cemetery. As a remembrance of meeting Schiavelli, Locke has not only described the incident in her memoir but also shared a recipe for the Sicilian cake it, though it may or may not have been the same recipe that Pino used to make their “journey cake.”

Read More: Where is Tembi Locke Now?