Culture Whisk, inter-cultural goodness

Recipes, stories and religions happily intertwine in the youtube channel of the two pastry chefs Stefano de Costanzo and Sara Afifi

09-11-2020
Sara Afifi and Stefano de Costanzo, promoters of C

Sara Afifi and Stefano de Costanzo, promoters of Culture Whisk. She is Egyptian, he is from Puglia (with a past as pastry chef from Giorgio Locatelli and Gordon Ramsay)

What do tiramisu - perhaps the best known Italian dessert in the world - and Om Ali, the Egyptian national dessert, have in common? Very little, one might say. Actually, they do share a lot according to Stefano de Costanzo, former head pastry chef with Locatelli and Ramsay

In the post-pandemic world, some of us have reinvented themselves, getting on with changes that life brought. Stefano did just that. Having lost his job as soon as the lockdown hit London, he did not stay idle and together with his longtime friend and colleague Sara Afifi, he launched a YouTube channel. With no previous experience in video making, graphics, sound, editing and so forth, the two have started up a truly commendable feat. Not surprisingly, they chose to call the channel Culture Whisk - the whisk of culture. The logo - a vintage hand whisk found on eBay - is one of the props featured in the videos, along with Apulian copper cruets, ceramic plates with attractive Middle Eastern patterns, and modern kitchen tools. 

Culture Whisk was born when Sara and Stefano met at a pastry course in London in 2018. Their friendship began when - as soon as they finished the course - they started cooking for each other authentic dishes from their own lands of origin, Egypt and Italy. This exchange of food, history and customs is the inspiration to create the episodes they regularly post on YouTube.

This is why Culture Whisk is much more than just a cooking channel. Sara and Stefano come from two very different cultural backgrounds (he is from Puglia, she is from Egypt and an observant Muslim), but they share the passion for good food and their origins, as well as the desire to share the knowledge of not only the dishes they love, classics of the two countries, but also plenty of ideas to find further meeting points and dialogue between cultures that may at times seem impassable horizons. Especially in a year like 2020 - between the COVID disaster and the anti-racism movements - Culture Whisk is like a breath of fresh air. 

Tiramisu al bicchiere

Tiramisu al bicchiere

The necessaire for Om Ali, dessert symbol of Egypt

The necessaire for Om Ali, dessert symbol of Egypt

In the videos the two appear at ease, friendly and witty. The recipes are explained in detail, step by step. The two chefs interact naturally and thus address the viewers, and in the end, provide historical notes that add context to the dish in question. Don't miss the closing bloopers that add a personal and light hearted touch to the production.

When we chat to Stefano, he is super busy and has a lot on his plate, literally and figuratively. The ideas they have are many, too many; cooking, filming, editing and then also dealing with the marketing and financial part takes a lot of time. But the amount of work ahead doesn’t faze them, on the contrary: they fire on all cylinders and every week they publish a new video, a new recipe. 

“We are pretty happy - he tells us - we are having positive results and a lot of encouragement both from colleagues and from the general public that is beginning to follow our channel”. 

The logo of the youtube channel

The logo of the youtube channel

What sort of dishes can you expect from Culture Whisk? One of the most recent videos is the classic Caprese salad which in Stefano's expert hands is much more than tomato and mozzarella. The chef - who has done a lot of experimental cuisine and not only in pastry - always adds his personal and innovative touch to the dishes they prepare. Sara - so elegantly dressed - has the same passion as Stefano in describing traditional recipes from her country of origin. Some dishes are known beyond national borders, in fact one of the most popular videos is the recipe of falafel, delicious vegetarian meatballs made with chickpeas. On the channel they are paired with panelle, Sicilian street food also prepared with chickpea flour. 

“We are motivated by the need to share and we are interested in what binds one culture to another” - the two say. Each pair of recipes therefore has a trait d'union, even if it may not seem immediately obvious. The discovery of one's own customs, respect for ingredients and memory and the desire to explore are fundamental elements for the success of the project. 

The two YouTubers have already programmed the entire first series and are looking forward to the second, where they plan to cook with other chefs to further expand the geographical horizons as well as the gastronomic scope of their channel. 

At the moment the videos are in English, but it is possible to follow them with the transcription function that Youtube offers (in different languages). 


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