Giuseppe Oliva

Credit Brambilla-Serrani

Credit Brambilla-Serrani

Baest

Guldbergsgade 29, Copenhagen. Tel. +45 35 350463

A Sicilian at the court of Denmark. Giuseppe Oliva was born on the 20th January 1986 in Sicily, in Alcamo (TP), a small town between Palermo and Trapani, only a few kilometres from the archaeological site of Segesta. Giuseppe grew up in an area full of farms and vineyards, as well as olive groves and fields of wheat.

Here, ever since he was a child, he smelled the aroma of freshly baked bread and felt the warmth of the wood oven at his father Leonardo’s bakery: «My family has been making bread since 1941. My father opened his bakery in 1978, when he was only 20. My grandfather on my mother’s side was head miller in a beautiful water mill and he was also a skilled baker. He worked as a baker in the army, during World War Two. My uncle Paolo has a bakery in Padua and another uncle of mine was an excellent pastry-maker. So basically there’s always been plenty of flour and bread at home!». 

His brothers Claudio and Enrico work in the family bakery, which is famous for its unique sfincione – typical of Palermitan gastronomy, a soft pizza covered with a simple sauce: primo sale cheese, onion and anchovies.

As a child, however, Giuseppe was fascinated by sailors and pirates and wanted to sail across the oceans. Hence he decided to study at the Nautical School in Trapani and then became a sea captain after long crossings and passing the exams in Venice.

A dream come true: Oliva started to work mostly on merchant ships – oil tankers and container ships – as well as some passenger ships. This adventure lasted six years and led him to land in Copenhagen where, almost by chance, he once again felt the desire to put his finger in the pie: «So I went back to that profession that I started as a child, making bread and pizza. I worked in the most popular pizzerias in town and discovered I was an artisan, with a great passion for pizza and natural fermentation».

Then there was a decisive meeting in the Danish capital: «Shortly before Christian [Puglisi] opened Bæst, we met a few times and, given we’re both Sicilian, we liked each other. We decided to work with pizza together. We opened Bæst in the best possible way, creating and serving artisanal products only made by ourselves, starting from raw materials and paying homage to our roots». He still works at Bæst where he had a crucial role in shaping the pizza they serve daily, of course supervised by Puglisi.

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by

Tania Mauri

A food writer and a traveller, she was born in Torino, but now lives in Rome. She's always worked in the communication industry. She writes of wine and food "by chance" and by passion for various Italian publications