BARB Sartori seemed to have a sixth sense when people were in need, according to close friend Natalie Pizzini.
“She could just tell when someone was a bit down or needed cheering up and would make one of her famous lasagnes to surprise them,” Ms Pizzini said.
“Barb never expected thanks and was so generous. This is the saddest thing. So many people loved and respected her.”
Ms Pizzini helped organise the Three Nonnas cooking sessions, a highlight of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, where Mrs Sartori, Katrina Pizzini (Natalie’s mother) and Josie Politini shared their skills.
The sell-out sessions have been held at the King Valley Cuccina on the Sartori property near Whitfield for years.
The matriarchs and grandmothers met more than 30 years ago and shared a passion for family, cooking and the King Valley.
Mrs Sartori had been married to Walter for about 30 years since they met when she was 16.
They had four children, Steve, Michael, Neva, Brianna, and one grandchild, Callum.
Walter has been working in a Western Australian mine for some time and flew to Melbourne when told of the tragedy. He was on his way to Whitfield last night.
Ms Pizzini said the Three Nonnas classes had always been great fun.
“Barb made friends who came back year after year,” she said.
She said she had seen Mrs Sartori last week after she took over the store.
“It was her dream to set up a thriving produce store with food grown, baked and made from the heart and that’s what Barb did — she cooked with her heart,” she said.
“I bet she went back to the shop to bake something for someone special or in need she knew would be walking through the shop door the next day.
“You couldn’t meet a more cherished, loving and giving person.”
Mrs Josie Politini of Cheshunt described her as a wonderful friend, always ready with a big hug and a warm smile.
“Nothing was ever too much trouble — she was the kindest,” she said.
“She was the most loving person and will be so badly missed by so many.
She was a true friend for more than 30 years,”.
Mrs Sartori last year recalled her joy at arriving in the King Valley as a young bride after growing up on the outskirts of Melbourne.
She said she had thought pasta was spaghetti from a packet with tomato soup tossed on top.
But that changed when she married into the Sartori family and her passion became cooking.
The Three Nonnas sessions saw flour flying and lots of laughter.
Mrs Sartori had said that her passion for cooking came from knowing and growing the food she worked with.
“It is also easy to cook for the people you love and feel appreciated,” she said.”