Is From Scratch based on a true story? Here's what we know

Zoe Saldaña as Amy and Eugenio Mastrandrea as Lino looking distraught in From Scratch
Zoe Saldaña and Eugenio Mastrandrea, From Scratch (Image credit: Netflix)

If you haven’t heard by now, there’s a new limited series on Netflix that is simply captivating subscribers. With a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes (as of October 24), From Scratch takes viewers on a roller coaster ride of emotions as main characters Amy (Zoe Saldana) and Lino (Eugenio Mastrandrea) navigate their way in love through complicated family dynamics, the ups and downs of their careers and the hardships of a cancer battle. 

While the series certainly has earned every accolade from critics and every tear shed by fans, many are left wondering if the drama is based on a true story. Here’s what we know. 


By the way, don't forget to check out the top 7 From Scratch moments that leave fans in tears

Also, you may want to take a peak at the WTW debate on whether or not a romance story has to have a happy ending in order to be considered a real romance. Let's just say, we weren't in full agreement on that. 

Is From Scratch based on a true story?

Eugenio Mastrandrea and Zoe Saldaña as Lino and Amy smiling in From Scratch

Eugenio Mastrandrea and Zoe Saldaña in From Scratch (Image credit: Netflix)

From Scratch is actually based on series co-creator Tembi Locke’s real life, as detailed in her book From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home. The actress, who’s been seen in projects like Never Have I Ever and NCIS: Los Angeles, chronicled her journey of love with her husband and professional chef, Saro, as they battled the obstacles in life that threatened their fairytale romance. While the series focuses more so on Amy and Lino’s time leading up to his death, the novel places a little more emphasis on Tembi’s time of healing with her daughter after the passing of Saro.

Check out the official book synopsis: 

"It was love at first sight when Tembi met professional chef, Saro, on a street in Florence. There was just one problem: Saro’s traditional Sicilian family did not approve of him marrying a black American woman, an actress no less. However, the couple, heartbroken but undeterred, forges on. They build a happy life in Los Angeles, with fulfilling careers, deep friendships and the love of their lives: a baby girl they adopt at birth. Eventually, they reconcile with Saro’s family just as he faces a formidable cancer that will consume all their dreams.

"From Scratch chronicles three summers Tembi spends in Sicily with her daughter, Zoela, as she begins to piece together a life without her husband in his tiny hometown hamlet of farmers. Where once Tembi was estranged from Saro’s family and his origins, now she finds solace and nourishment — literally and spiritually — at her mother-in-law’s table. In the Sicilian countryside, she discovers the healing gifts of simple fresh food, the embrace of a close-knit community and timeless traditions and wisdom that light a path forward. All along the way, she reflects on her and Saro’s incredible romance — an indelible love story that leaps off the pages.

"In Sicily, it is said that every story begins with a marriage or a death — in Tembi Locke’s case, it is both. Her story is about loss, but it’s really about love found. Her story is about travel, but it’s really about finding a home. It is about food, but it’s really about chasing flavor as an act of remembrance. From Scratch is for anyone who has dared to reach for big love, fought for what mattered most, and needed a powerful reminder that life is… delicious." 

How is the From Scratch Netflix series different from the book? 

Zoe Saldaña as Amy and Eugenio Mastrandrea as Lino embracing one another in From Scratch

Zoe Saldaña as Amy and Eugenio Mastrandrea in From Scratch (Image credit: Netflix)

For starters, unlike in the series where Saldana’s character Amy goes abroad to Italy while on a break from law school, Tembi actually went to Florence as a part of the Wesleyan University to Syracuse University study abroad program when she was just 20 years old. Additionally, Tembi didn’t go to Italy with hidden desires of being an artist, but a professional actor. 

There’s also the fact that unlike in the Netflix series, where Amy had a boyfriend named Giancarlo Caldesi (Giacomo Gianniotti) she was dating prior to caving into Lino’s advances, Tembi was pretty much single in Italy prior to her romance with her would-be husband Saro. While in her book she mentions being involved with a man she references as "Il Diavolo," she notes that their entanglement was nothing serious. 

It may also surprise From Scratch viewers to learn that in real life, Tembi is actually the older sibling between her and her sister, despite the main character Amy being the younger sister of Zora (Danielle Deadwyler) in the show. As discussed with Today, the sibling order was switched due to the writers’ need to move the story along in getting Amy and Lino to Los Angeles. By making Zora the older sister who was already established in LA, it made her a viable option to help Zora and Lino start their American lives together in California. 

Perhaps one of the more understanding differences between the novel and the series is all of the name changes. Speaking with Today, Tembi reflected on the need for the characters to have different names because there had to be a "psychic distance" between the real-life people in her experience and their onscreen portrayals. She stated:

"I needed the space to allow the character to grow, to bend and to fictionalize things." 

With that said, here’s an interesting note. Tembi’s daughter Zoela actually chose the name of Idalia for Amy’s onscreen daughter (Isla Colbert). 

To really see all the differences between the critically-raved about drama and the true story, we recommend buying the novel. Additionally, From Scratch is now streaming on Netflix. You can also meet the From Scratch cast right here.

Eugenio Mastrandrea and Zoe Saldaña as Lino and Amy holding their baby in From Scratch

Eugenio Mastrandrea and Zoe Saldaña, From Scratch (Image credit: Netflix)
Terrell Smith

Terrell Smith has a diverse writing background having penned material for a wide array of clients including the federal government and Bravo television personalities.  When he’s not writing as Terrell, he’s writing under his pseudonym Tavion Scott, creating scripts for his audio drama podcasts. Terrell is a huge fan of great storytelling when it comes to television and film. Some of his favorite shows include The CrownWandaVision, Abbot Elementary and Godfather of HarlemAnd a fun fact is he's completely dialed into the TLC 90 Day Fiancé universe.