Coccia goes to Hollywood

The pizzaiolo from Campania participated in the Week of Italian Cuisine in the world in Los Angeles. Here’s the story

05-12-2017

Enzo Coccia from pizzeria La Notizia in Naples (and much more) went to Los Angeles for the Californian Week of Italian Cuisine in the world

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On the 20th November the Californian Week of Italian Cuisine in the world came to an end. On this occasion the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce West in Los Angeles hosted a special event to present pizza and its evolution. The focus of the event was pizza-chef Enzo Coccia, great ambassador of taste who flew from Naples on this very occasion. A master who surprised guests with his creations and his extensive culinary culture.  

The pizza-happening started with Coccia presenting three essential elements of pizza: tradition, identity and territory, where the dish is born and where its ingredients are produced. A quick and interesting cultural excursus: from the birth of bread making, under the Romans, to the introduction of tomato as an edible fruit thanks to… Cristopher Columbus.

Coccia, who has written extensively on Neapolitan pizza, presented this delicacy as a dish for the poor created right under Vesuvius and exported all over the world. Then, during two intense days in Hollywood, he explained every aspect, from preparing the dough to topping secrets, to the awaited tasting. I had the honour of trying to make some fried pizza with him, the famous montanarine.

Coccia with consul Antonio Verde

Coccia with consul Antonio Verde

The event took place at Chi Spacca, one of Nancy Silverton’s restaurants. She’s an excellent chef, writer, bread maker and foodie based in Los Angeles. At noon, numerous food experts and food professionals arrived: restaurateurs, cooks, writers, bloggers, food TV authors and winners of Emmy awards for food programmes. They all arrived with their mouths watering and the desire find stories tell about pizza too. Luigi Fineo, starred chef in Los Angeles, worked beside Coccia. Together they prepared two dishes.

Jenn Harris, food editor for the Los Angeles Times spoke too. He moderated a lively and fun conversation with panellists and guests. Silverton explained that by collaborating with Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich she had a chance to learn the essentials of Italian cuisine from the point of view of an American, and she therefore could adapt it to local products. She also highlighted the work of Piero Selvaggio in bringing mozzarella and burrata to Los Angeles.

Chef Zach Pollack pointed out that during the years spent in Italy he learnt that Italian food is not static: traditions must be conveyed, but it is also necessary to create new products with local, fresh raw materials. Nancy Silverton stressed how authentic PDO products are important, a concept that is still missing in American culture. She said she got to know them over the years through friends like Selvaggio, or during her holidays in Italy.

Phil Rosenthal, comedy show author and creator of food show I'll Have What Phil's Having asked himself: who doesn’t love pizza? Children love it, biting that disc rich of seasoning is like going back to your childhood… You can do it everywhere, but in Italy it’s special: the feelings, the people around, the light, everything contributes to make the meal tastier.

Then: Piero Selvaggio, patron at restaurant Valentino in Santa Monica, pointed out that pizza is like the blue jeans of food; it used to be a simple dish, but now it’s a delicious and elaborated specialty, good throughout the year. It’s a real food of the world.

Peppe Miele, president of association Pizza Verace Napoletana, finally recalled that pizza is about to become a food protected by Unesco as a world heritage. After the debate, we toasted (with Franciacorta) and tasted: Fried montanarine with cherry tomatoes from Piennolo PDO, Fried pizza with ricotta, mozzarella and salamiPizza margherita with Antichi Pomodori di NapoliWhite [tomato-less] pizza with mozzarella and vegetables.
Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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