'A kitchen without oil, salt and wheat is a kitchen without sense'

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 11th February 2020

IN ASSOCIATION WITH

Ciccio Sultano is the chef owner of Duomo in Ragusa, Sicily.

The chef started selling pastries at a local bakery aged just 13, and never looked back. 

Driven, he said, "by the fear of being mistaken, the thirst to grow and the thirst for knowledge," his quest to understand the very essence of ingredients began. 

In Sicily, he learnt about savoury pastry and even dabbled in mixology. He then spent a season working in a German rotisserie, before going New York, where, he said, he discovered that he wanted to enter the world of fine dining. 

In 2000, the chef and his wife decided to launch Duomo in their hometown of Ragusa in Sicily, which he refers to as "the last outpost of Europe, Sicily, and Italy,"on the border with the mediterranean sea, two steps from Africa." 

Searching for the new at the heart of the old

The food at Duomo, which, in the ten months it is open, is eaten by almost 9000 diners, the chef explained, is bound "both to tradition and innovation," encapsulating the richness of Sicilian cuisine. 

"Sicily is a massive, 25 thousand square metre expanse of land, mountain, volcano and beaches. Its sea offers so many emotions and landscapes. My cuisine is all of this." 

"It is the sum of the whole of Sicily."      

For example, he names the fetucelle, served with a sour cream sauce, herring caviar and a mix of raw and cooked seabream, seabass and prawns.

Local lamb, enriched with sweet stuffing and saffron-scented yogurt sauce

He also describes a prawn and almond tartare served with a lemon grattachecca as being "like child's play," explaining that this is because "when we [at Duomo] create these dishes, they remind us of our childhood." 

Closely connecting his food to the seasons, this doesn't stop the chef from keeping some recipes on the menu, letting them "change and evolve throughout the year" -  like his pâté-stuffed pork chop, served with a cantaloupe melon sauce in the summer, and a carob sauce in the autumn and winter - along with chestnuts, kaki, mustard and coal-ashed mashed potatoes. 

In 2015, the chef opened I Banchi (the counter) - a restaurant, bakery and pastry shop, also in Ragusa, where, the chef said, "bread is at the centre" - betraying his passion for the historical heritage of food and their associated techniques and flavours.

"Anthropologically, bread is the most ancient food in the world," he said, explaining that for this reason, he launched a new brand: olio, sale e grano, (“oil, salt and wheat”). 

Pistachio couscous with milk cream, lavender and celery water sorbet

"I’ve always considered “oil, salt and wheat” a triad of great importance, because despite the infinite satisfactions of creativity and experimentation, in the end a kitchen without these three elements is a kitchen without sense,” he said. 

Most recently, the chef opened Pastamara (or "pasta amara - bitter paste") which means chocolate in ancient Sicilian speak) in Vienna. The bar con cucina ("restaurant with a kitchen") is a relaxed take on Sicilian classics, with a strong focus on aperitivo. 

What does success mean for Ciccio?

Time will tell what other ventures the chef embarks on. Betraying a keenness to please shared by many a chef and restaurateur, the chef said: "For me, the biggest success is when the others, the people, the clients perceive your success."

"To succeed in the future, you need to look always backwards and also downwards to be able to go upwards. "

Inside Duomo

 

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 11th February 2020

'A kitchen without oil, salt and wheat is a kitchen without sense'

IN ASSOCIATION WITH