This man used his love of food and cooking to transform his life, save his family, and become a renowned chef after years of fighting alcohol and drug addictions.
Louie Bossi, 50, has been homeless, in trouble with the law, and nearly died from an overdose, but he’s been clean for nine years. He now runs two of his own South Florida restaurants, Louie Bossi Ristorante, and a third is on the way.
During a particularly tough time in Bossi’s former life, his older sister suddenly died in a motorcycle accident. For two years after that, Bossi was homeless, and one night he snorted $10 worth of heroin on a subway car in New York, nearly killing himself. Fortunately, a stranger found him and called for help, saving his life.
In another incident, Bossi was literally stabbed in the back by his then drugged-up girlfriend, which landed him in the hospital. According to South Florida, “She was shot dead doing a drug deal the next day,” said his sister, Rosemary Bossi Daniel.
Bossi tried to clean himself up. He met his wife Toni at a 12-step recovery program, and they instantly hit it off, soon getting married and having two children together. But although Toni was able to stick to the recovery program, Bossi relapsed and soon left the family.
One day Bossi got word his father was dying from a lifetime of alcohol abuse, and he went to visit the hospital. Both father and son made amends for their past mistakes, and Bossi promised his dad that he would be a good father to his own sons. A few hours later, Bossi’s father passed away.
Nine months into sobriety in 2009, Bossi then went back to see Toni, asking to see their two sons. “I said, ‘You have to put a year under your belt,’” his wife recalled, “I needed to know that he was serious. There’s been some tough love.”
In the end, the kitchen proved to be Bossi’s salvation. As a child, he would cook for his three older siblings with their mother working three jobs and their father having walked out on the family. When he was older, his used his cooking prowess to impress friends, and it was even what helped him win over Toni, having surprised her with a rigatoni a la vodka dinner. Throughout his career, he went back and forth through various pizzerias and restaurants.
“My friends would say, ‘Why don’t you leave him? He’s a loser,’” Toni said, “But I saw something in him. When he wasn’t using, he was a gentle, caring and sensitive guy. He’s a workhorse. He’s got talent. And he’s got so much passion. I always said he could be the next Mario Batali.” In a way, her faith in her husband, despite his struggles, proved that she gets to laugh last. “Now, his name is up in lights all over the place,” fellow restaurateur Todd Herbst said of Bossi, “And he deserves it. He’s earned it. Louie has worked his ass off to get where he is.”
Proving himself to be something of a self-made man, “I never finished high school, never went to culinary school,” Bossi added, “The only diploma I have is one from a pizzamaking course. But I’m proof that it’s never too late to turn things around. I took that Bossi name, which was tarnished and filled me with shame and resentment, and am working to make it something great.”
He also has the greatest honor any man could wish for, and every man would kill to obtain. He made his mother proud. “I’m so amazed how far he’s come.” his mother, the original Rosemary, said of him. Even his sister, the younger Rosemary commented on her brother’s modesty, saying, “He has the tools now to succeed. He didn’t want to turn out like his dad. He’s a big guy — everybody used to call him ‘Large Lou’ — and he does things big. But he doesn’t act like a big shot, even with all this success.”