TV

Family Food Fight’s Pina shares her tragic family upbringing

“I was disowned!”

By TV Week team

Given she's a mother of four and a nonna to eight grandchildren, family is everything for Italian-born Pina.

Sadly, the Family Food Fight star didn't grow up surrounded by a big, loving family.

Pina was forced to leave Italy – and her own mother – when she was just five years old, following the breakdown of her parents' marriage.

She and her older brother shared an unhappy childhood living with their father and his new wife in Australia.

"My father basically said my mother was non-existent," the 69-year-old explains to TV WEEK. "He'd say, 'Your mother doesn't want you, she's moved on and has another life.'

"He was a very hard man, and because I looked so much like my mum, he was spiteful."

Pina (left) and her daughter Concetta are competing together on *Family Food Fight.*
Pina (left) and her daughter Concetta are competing together on Family Food Fight.

When they were older, Pina's brother Roy decided to travel to Italy to track down their mother.

"He had the guts to go against his father's will to see his mum," Pina's daughter Concetta, 46, says.

In a tragic turn of events, Roy was killed in a car accident at the age of 21, not long after he'd reunited with his mum.

"I loved my brother," Pina says. "He was the only love I had here. It affected me a lot."

But spurred on by her brother's bravery, Pina, along with five-year-old Concetta, travelled to Italy in 1977. She reunited with her mother, only to suffer further heartache.

Pina's father disowned her, and he remained adamant she'd betrayed him up until his death.

"I cried at his funeral, but it was out of anger," Pina recalls. "I mourned him from the day he said to me, 'You're not my daughter anymore.'"

Pina with her brother Roy (left) and her husband Bart.
Pina with her brother Roy (left) and her husband Bart.

Thankfully, Pina's relationship with her mother went from strength to strength.

"We were always in contact after that," the self-taught home cook says with a smile.

"She wanted to make up for all the missing years, so I got all that love later on."

Pina's mum passed away nearly two years ago.

"I used to say to my grandmother that I'd love to write a book together about our family's story," Concetta recalls. "But we never got around to it.

"She would have loved watching us on the show."

Family Food Fight airs Monday to Tuesday, 7:30pm, and Sunday, 7pm, on Nine Network.

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