Norma Naparlo was born and raised in northern Wisconsin on a dairy farm. Because of the gardening and fruit orchards, cooking, baking and canning were part of her everyday life that stimulated her passion for food and food preparation. After high school, she moved to Charleston, South Carolina to work with a small caterer and local resort, Wild Dunes, which was destroyed by Hurricane Hugo. She then worked for another caterer, Stephen DuVall, and eventually ended up as pastry chef at Anson’s.
In 1993, Great Chef Donald Barickman offered her the executive pastry chef position at his Hospitality Management Group, which operated two restaurants, Blossom Café and Magnolia’s. In 1995, the Great Chefs team showed up to tape her at Magnolia’s for the Discovery Channel’s Great Chefs of the South series.