Margarita Forés was knighted by the Italian government Tuesday night.

The industry veteran accepted the title “Cavaliere” or honorary knight of the “Ordine della Stella d’Italia” (Order of the Star of Italy) at the home of Italian Ambassador to the Philippines Giorgio Guglielmino at Dasmariñas Village in Makati City. Granted by Italian president Sergio Mattarella on behalf of the Italian state, the honor is said to be given to individuals who have helped promote collaboration between Italy and other countries. 

Forés wrote in an Instagram post:

“Grazie di cuore, Ambassador Giorgio. And thank you to my mom, Maria Forés, for taking me to Italy when I was 10. A love affair started and has not ended forever!”

Perhaps best known for championing authentic Italian cuisine through restaurants such as Cibo, Forés credits a life-changing trip to Northern Italy at the age of 10 as the moment that started her passion for Italian food. There, she learned from Northern Italian nonnas who gracefully took her in and introduced to her some heirloom recipes. 

Forés says that the Italians taught her to “respect ingredients” and “seriously care for produce.”