That’s all you need to know about the real story behind the new series – and how it differs from what happened in real life.
Spoilers ahead for the Netflix series From Scratch
Is From Scratch a true story?
Although the names of the characters have been changed, from zero is actually based on the true story of Tembi Locke’s life – her travels to Italy, her romance with Saro Gullo and the tragic loss of her husband following the diagnosis of a rare form of cancer.
The series was co-created by Locke and her sister, Attica Locke, and stars Zoe Saldaña (Maya and the Three, Guardians of the Galaxy) as Amy Wheeler, an American who moves to Italy to study abroad when he meets Sicilian chef Lino Ortolano, played by Eugenio Mastrandra (La Fuggitiva, Carlo & Malik). However, their romance takes a heartbreaking turn when Lino falls ill.
The official synopsis for Netflix’s eight-episode series reads: “A performer finds a romantic relationship with a chef in Italy and embarks on a life-changing journey of love, loss, resilience, and… hope across cultures and continents.”
Much like Amy in the Netflix series, Locke moved to Italy after graduating from high school, where she met her future husband, Gullo. Things between the two did not always go smoothly, with Gullo’s family unhappy with his decision to marry a black woman from Texas.
Locke eventually returned to the United States while Gullo remained in Florence, but the two reunited in New York and eventually moved together to Los Angeles in 1995, where they married.
It was in 2002 that Gullo was diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer that develops in smooth muscle. Smooth muscles are found in the hollow organs of the body, including the intestines, stomach, bladder, and blood vessels.
After her diagnosis, Locke and Gullo adopted a child together, however, after 10 years of treatment, he died in 2012. Locke recounted his and his daughter’s life after Gullo died during three summers spent in Sicily, so that the two were trying to navigate life without him.
True to real life events, the latest episode of from zero seeing Amy carry out her late husband’s last wishes by returning to Sicily and bonding with his family, who are also mourning his loss.
Is there a book?
from zero is based on Locke’s memoir titled From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding a Homewhich was published in 2019 by Simon and Schuster.
Locke’s book was a New York Times bestseller and a Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick, with Witherspoon describing the book as a “personal journey of love, partnership and ultimately the loss of her husband, Saro”.
She says: “[Locke] learns to heal in the most beautiful way – thanks to the support of three generations of women – and yes, there is Italian cuisine. Lots and lots of Italian food!”
What are the differences between the show and the book?
As is the case with any movie or TV show based on something else, in this case a memoir, changes will be made to the final product for various reasons.
Whereas from zero strives to stay true to the source material, nearly all of the characters’ names have been changed, with Locke explaining that she hoped the choice would create “psychic distance” between the real people in her memoir and their fictional on-screen characters. .
She said Today: “I needed space to allow the character to grow, to bend and to fictionalise things.”
Even though the names are different on the show, a lot of thought has gone into character naming, especially Amy’s name. Amy’s full name in from zero is actually Amahle, a South African name. Locke’s full name is Tembekile, although Tembi is his short name, although growing up in Texas people often changed Locke’s name to Tammy, or another anglicized version.
Locke said: “Amy’s name is a nod and nod to the Afrocentric name and how it changes. But his parents always called him Amahle.
Locke’s sister Attica also explained that the two sisters are actually quite different from their characters on the show. Attica is actually the younger of the two sisters, but in from zeroher series equivalent, Zora, is the eldest.
Attica also added, “I also have a caustic sense of humor. I’m talkative. I think Zora is a good sister, and I hope I am a good sister. And I’m not a teacher.