Online magazine Italy Segreta interviewed our beloved friend and extraordinary pastry chef Corrado Assenza for their Sicily issue. With each answer Corrado offered a unique and compelling perspective on Sicilian culinary culture through the scents of the island and rhythm of its seasons. Here are a few of our favorite snippets, but we strongly suggest you check out the whole thing!
A 2018 Chef’s Table episode catapulted Corrado into the spotlight, but we’ve been importing his products for the past 20 years! Everything served at Caffè Sicilia tastes like the true essence of the island. Corrado uses only the highest-quality raw materials from Sicilian farmers, like real Bronte pistachios or Noto Romana almonds. Once you try those, there’s no going back.
On the separation of sweet and savory:
“I focus on the natural world of ingredients: there are salts and sugars in each. So each of them can be used in both savory and sweet preparations. I have always been convinced that the role of the cook includes both the preparation of sweet and savory dishes. And I am also convinced that the separation of sweet and savory on menus is relative to cultural, temporal, and geographical facts. Just change place, time, and cultural context and you’ll find profound changes to this organization of people’s diet.”
On sweetness in Sicilian pastry:
“I prefer for Caffè Sicilia to choose the best ingredients. And to make sure this quality is perceived, I reduce the amount of added sugar to a minimum. I look for natural sweetness: I find it, concentrate it if necessary, and use it in such a way to bring out the taste of that ingredient. I develop new sweets to enhance each individual ingredient, expressing the moment of its harvest and offering the guests of Caffè Sicilia a taste of time’s rhythm.”
On the role of Caffè Sicilia
“Caffè Sicilia modulated for decades as the real expression of Sicilian food culture, Now, it’s recognized as a foodie destination by travelers on the hunt for local culture, by those who wish to savor the goodness of a truly artisanal and refined production. After being Sicily’s ambassador to the world, Caffè Sicilia now has the task of being a careful and refined vanguard, a sentinel for its territory in the sometimes stormy sea of the globalized world.”
Corrado, you are indeed a sentinel for Sicilian food culture, for Italy’s greatest ingredients, and for true + honest relationships that are destined to last for many decades.