Bellamy was born in Burma to a Burmese princess and an Australian
pioneer. Burma (now known as Myanmar) was occupied by the Japanese
during the war, and June, then age nine, and her family emigrated to
India, where she discovered a new world filled with unique sights,
smells, tastes and sounds. Five years later, at the end of the war,
her family returned to Burma. Although she thought that she would
never abandon her country again, June left Burma after she married an
Italian doctor from Naples who was working for the World Health
She and her husband lived
in many different countries in Europe, the Middle East and Asia,
always for a few years at a time. During these extended stays, June’s
favorite pastime was milling around markets, tasting the local
cuisine and learning how to cook its delicacies. Even with two boys
in tow, June continued to develop her passion for cooking in each
country. On visits to her husband’s family in Naples, June learned
about Neapolitan cooking from them.
While June, by now fluent
in Italian, was living in the Philippines, she was asked by a local
news channel to interview a few of the Italians attending an Italian
Film Festival in Manila. On the success of that spot, she was hired
as one of the news program’s interviewers. While working for the
television station, June proposed a special TV program for women. The
idea was approved, and June began writing and presenting the live
one-hour weekly television show. Each week, she invited people to
discuss different subjects, including sewing, childcare and flower
arranging while she had her own segment on Italian cooking. Although
the show was a success, her stint ended a year later when her husband
was posted to another country.
Because the two boys had
no language or homeland of their own, June and her husband decided to
send them to a well-known all-boys boarding school in Florence. When,
a few years later, she and her husband divorced, June decided to move
to the countryside outside Florence to live closer to her two sons.
June’s passion for
cooking became a profession while she was in Florence: a friend
suggested that she teach cooking classes since she loved food so much
and was such a wonderful cook. June decided to try it out by teaching
10 courses to a group of friends, and discovered that she enjoyed it.
Before opening up her own
cooking school, she traveled to London to speak with Kenneth Lo, the
‘king of Chinese cooking’ in England, owner of a popular Chinese
restaurant and founder of a Chinese cooking school. She stayed in
London for two months while Mr. Lo taught her how to write recipes
and teach cooking. However, June decided that for her courses in
Florence, she would write her own recipes and have participants
follow along with her during the course, instead of the traditional
way she learned from Mr. Lo.
Upon her return from
London, June founded the Associazione Culturale Arte e Gastronomia
a cooking school offering a variety of cooking classes, specializing
in Italian, Chinese, Indian and Thai cuisines. In 1979, June’s was
the first school in Florence to teach Asian cooking. Since then, she
has added themed courses on a variety of culinary subjects, such as
salt, curry, rice and soups. In her classes, students learn about not
only another country’s cuisine, but also its culture. They discover
its tastes and smells, which are vivid reminders of June’s own
history in each country.
When June moved into the
city, she chose San Frediano, the heart of Florence, as her home. ‘I
couldn’t live anywhere else in Florence as happily,’ she said.
Not only does she enjoy the area, but she has also become attached to
the locals, whom she describes as ‘the salt of the Earth.’ If she
couldn’t live in San Frediano, she’d rather live outside the
city-no other part of Florence could make her as happy.