DES MOINES, Iowa — A great mother is the backbone of a loving family.
She’s supportive and serves as a son’s number one cheerleader.
“What an awesome, beautiful, caring, loving person she was,” said Tony Lemmo, owner of Café Di Scala and Gusto Pizza in Des Moines.
Lemmo’s mother Lou Ann was all of those things on top of being his mentor and his main competitor.
“She’s taken first one or two times more than me, but I’ve gotten her a couple of times too,” said Lemmo.
The two have submitted their secret recipes in the Italian American Heritage Festival’s sauce contest for 15 years. When Lou Ann passed away unexpectedly just weeks ago, it appeared they would fall short of a sweet 16.
That is until Tony’s father found one final batch of Lou Ann’s famous sauce.
“My pops found a quart of her sauce tucked away in the freezer,” Lemmo told Channel 13 News.
Tony decided to submit it as a fitting end to a beautiful, friendly rivalry between a son and his mother.
The two batches competed against nine others, and the pressure was on a panel of three judges as hundreds came out to support “Lou”.
When the winners were revealed, Tony’s, nor his mother’s name was called.
“Our winner, our number one is Joanne Lowe,” said a judge.
As it turns out, a family friend took home the top prize.
“I want that same tradition to be in my family between me and my daughter,” said Joanne Lowe, the winner of the contest.
To those who knew “Lou” best, one woman will always be central Iowa’s sauce queen.
“This just shows how magical of a woman she was,” said Lemmo.
If you want to try Lou Ann’s famous sauce, her recipe is used in dishes at Café Di Scala in Des Moines.
The restaurant is open from 5 PM to 10 PM Thursday through Saturday.