Is From Scratch based on a true story? What inspired the Netflix series

Zoe Saldana leads the cast in this Netflix romance

a still of From Scratch the NEtflix show based on a true story
(Image credit: Future/Netflix)

It's the latest Netflix series to hit the streaming site and is one with much hype having been produced by Reece Witherspoon's production company. As viewers tune in, many are asking, is From Scratch based on a true story?

Filmed in Italy and Los Angeles last year, the show is a limited series on Netflix which consists of eight episodes for viewers to sink their teeth into. From Scratch joins other new Netflix hits including The School for Good and Evil and The Watcher - with the latter also having audiences ask Is The Watcher a true story?. The romance series tells the story of Amy [played by Zoe Saldaña] and Lino [played by Eugenio Mastrandrea] – a love story for the ages, about an American woman who falls in love with a Sicilian man while studying abroad in Italy. 

It's a tale full of love, loss and life lessons, so it's no wonder that audiences have been wondering if From Scratch is based on a true story. Here's everything you need to know, including critic reviews and other burning questions about the series.

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Is From Scratch based on a true story?

Yes From Scratch is a true story that's based on the 2019 memoir of the same name by Tembi Locke - From Scratch. While the characters in the series have fictionalised names, the plot is based on the story of Tembi and her first husband, Saro Gullo, who she met and fell in love with in Italy.

However, their love story was tragically cut short when Saro was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in 2012. And after writing about her journey of love and loss in her memoir, the Netflix series will bring the story to screen.

Tembi Locke acts as the limited series' co-creator and executive producer. And her sister Attica, is the showrunner of From Scratch.

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Tembi said of the series: "One of the things about family and what we hoped to do as storytellers was to show the subtle complexities that are in every family. The kinds of ways that we lift each other, we fall down on each other, we get back up again, we apologize. We wanted to do that lovingly and with levity."

Who is From Scratch author Tembi Locke?

Tembi Locke is an American actress who has appeared in both TV and film. She is best known for playing Dr. Grace Monroe on Syfy's series Eureka and as Dr. Diana Davis in Sliders. She has also appeared in such shows including The MentalistCastle, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Bones.

After high school, Tembi lived in Italy for a period of time and this is where she met her first husband, Soro Gullo, a Sicilian chef. The couple eventually lived and worked in Los Angeles, California.

They had a daughter together, Zoela, but sadly, Soro died from a rare form of cancer in 2012, when Zoela was just seven years old.

From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home: View at Amazon

From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home: View at Amazon

RRP: £6.00 | Delivery: Next day/standard

This Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick and New York Times bestseller is “a captivating story of love lost and found” (Kirkus Reviews) set in the lush Sicilian countryside, where one woman discovers the healing powers of food, family, and unexpected grace in her darkest hours.

From Scratch draws parallels with Tembi and Soro's love story, with Zoe Saldaña playing a young American student who travels to Italy to study art and falls in love with a Sicilian chef named Lino. Their relationship brings together two families — one Black from Houston and the other Italian — as they move through life and navigate Lino's illness and ultimately death.

Did Tembi Locke get remarried?

Yes, Tembi married her partner Robert in the summer of 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a sweet Facebook post, Tembi said: "I have loved him since the moment we met. He was heaven sent. But I never imagined this joy. This moment. The gift of this love. And while a backyard wedding quarantined in middle of a pandemic and amidst social unrest was not what we had planned, it was perfect. It was our way to honor our love and the life we are building forward.

"We pulled clothes from the closet, hung lights in the backyard, and had my dad officiate over Zoom. And when R made his vows to Z my heart leapt from my chest. Right then we became a new family of three. Because as has been said, love 'pulls with the force and rhythm of a sea tide, emerging from and receding into mysteries larger than any individual life.'"

In a blog post on her website, Tembi, who also celebrated turning 50 that summer, added: "To my surprise, the scaled down simplicity of it was stunning. Standing in our backyard under a fig tree and making vows to each other was the most perfect wedding for us and for this moment. 

"Saro was watching over us as Robert made vows to Zoela. Our family friend Coline Creuzot serenaded us and friends brought over flowers and left them on our porch. When all was said and done, we drove around the neighborhood making old-fashioned, joyous noise with string and tomato sauce cans dragging behind us. Zoela made our 'Just Married' sign. It was perfect!"

From Scratch: Book to screen adaptation

From Scratch started as a book, and speaking about her decision to write the memoir, author Tembi said: "This story had been swelling in my heart for years. Some of it even before Saro passed. I understood that there were aspects of our love story that were rare and beautiful. 

"However, three years after his passing I was seated in Sicily with Zoela and across from us was Nonna. We were at the dinner table at the end of what had been like the perfect summer day. And I had a thought: How did we get here, especially given where we started AND given that the only person connecting us is gone? That question felt like the makings of a book. Yet it was the fifth anniversary of his passing, before I felt ready to write it."

Explaining how important it was to get the screen adaptation right, Tembi said: "When we were initially pitching the series, it was very powerful to have five women of color, two sets of sisters, walk into a room and say, 'This is the story we want to make, and we want to center on a Black woman's life, a journey that we have not seen on screen yet.'"

The book was Reese’s Book Club x Hello Sunshine May 2019 pick, and her production company picked it up to start filming during the pandemic in April 2021. Tembi's sister Attica, who worked as showrunner on the series, explained: "We were Netflix’s first U.S. production after the pandemic started. People were leaving the set to get vaccinated. Then we had the challenge of three languages (Italian, Sicilian and English), two countries and five cities. … So there were all kinds of logistical challenges.”

Italy is an important location for both the book at film, as it is where Tembi - who speaks fluent Italian - met Saro. With him being a chef, food is also a very important part of the story. "We wanted to make the food feel very intimate, beautiful, inviting, aspirational, and sexy. We wanted to really make the viewer lean in and want to eat. At the same time, we wanted to show how food changes over the course of a life in terms of this couple, and the way that food can be used to both soothe and control.

"It can be a power play, it can be very charged with so many different types of emotions in our relationships. It can be charged with love and sexiness, or it can be more about a familial power dynamic. To render that on the screen was really a tough task for us as storytellers."

Bringing her story and memoir to screen has been an emotional process for Tembi, who's admitted: “I knew on a soul level what I was saying yes to, and I knew that to do the work we needed to do, it was going to ask of me to relive everything. I felt that my role essentially was to be the guardian of the essence of the story and with that would come all of the personal triggers.”

She added: “I don't know why my story at this moment in time has moved through the channels to be present in this way. But my role was to help that manifest. So I would cry. I would go step away many times, but I also felt like I was doing it in community. I felt as though everyone was invested in this as much as I was, and that I wasn't alone."

From Scratch based on a true story

(Image credit: Netflix)

From Scratch: Netflix reviews

So far, From Scratch has had mainly positive reviews. Maggie Fremont of said of the series: "One of From Scratch's greatest strengths is that it knows exactly what it is. It knows people are pressing play in order to escape, to get swept away, to be moved, and that's what it delivers." gave the series 3.5 stars and said: "From Scratch is the kind of elevated romantic escapism that’s difficult to create and too easily dismissed. Seasoned with moments of wonderful humor, beautiful romance, and a few gut punches along the way, this Netflix adaptation of Tembi Locke’s memoir is a series that makes you appreciate what you have and long for what you don’t."

However, Manuel Betancourt from gave a less glowing review, saying of the series: "The final product never quite adds up to the sum of its sumptuous parts. Perhaps it’s best to understand it as comfort food of a television show that only sometimes feels algorithmically created."

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Robyn Morris
Entertainment writer - contributor

Robyn is a freelance celebrity journalist with ten years experience in the industry. While studying for a degree in Media and Cultural Studies at London College of Communication, she did internships at Now and Heat magazines. After graduating, she landed a job at Star magazine, where she worked her way up to features editor. She then worked at Future as Deputy Celebrity Content Director across Woman, Woman’s Own, Woman’s Weekly and Woman & Home magazines.