Bonnie Lynn Tempesta
September 25, 2014
Specialty foods pioneer Bonnie Lynn Tempesta died on September 25th 2014, at her home in Sonoma after a brief struggle with cancer. She was 61 years old.
Bonnie introduced biscotti to the artisan American food scene in the 1980s, igniting a nationwide craze for Tuscany's twice-baked cookies known as "biscotti di Prato." Bonnie began selling her delightfully long, thin, crispy biscotti door-to-door to specialty shops in San Francisco in 1982.
The following year, along with her mother, Aurora, Bonnie founded La Tempesta Bakery Confections. La Tempesta grew to become the largest biscotti producer in the United States. Customers included Neiman Marcus, Starbucks, Macy's, and Dean & DeLuca. Bonnie is also credited with developing the first commercially sold chocolate-dipped biscotti, which she named Cioccolotti. A columnist for the San Francisco Examiner dubbed her "the queen of biscotti" - a nickname that stayed with her throughout her life.
Bonnie sold La Tempesta in 1997, after which she devoted her energy to other passions: art, animals, and Teen Inspiration Foundation, the nonprofit she founded to provide free arts-based education to disadvantaged youth. But Bonnie could not stay away from baking. In 2012, she started a small, philanthropic baking company in Kenwood called Boncora (the name Boncora is derived from Bonnie's name, "Bon," and "ancora," which means encore in Italian.) She donated a portion of every sale to her favorite cause: Pets Lifeline of Sonoma County, a local nonprofit animal rescue organization.
Bonnie's proudest accomplishment was her daughter, Daniela. Throughout her busy and successful career in the food business, Bonnie's role as a mother was always her top priority. Bonnie and Daniela remained best friends until Bonnie's final days, and they were a constant source of inspiration and support for one another. Daniela was at Bonnie's bedside holding her hand as she passed.
Bonnie enjoyed a remarkably rich life as a mother, entrepreneur, baker, chef, and artist. She was also a devoted fan of roots music, and she made regular trips to the New Orleans Jazz Festival.
She is survived by her father Luigi Marcheschi, brother Cork Marcheschi, daughter Daniela Tempesta, son-in-law Jeffrey Wycoff, boyfriend Gary (Jack) Robinson, Daniela's father Giovanni Tempesta, and her beloved rescue dogs Chubby and Vico.
It was her wish that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Pets Lifeline (www.petslifeline.org
Published by San Francisco Chronicle from Oct. 3 to Oct. 5, 2014.