From Western concert flute to cakes

The story of Paola Ziliani in her own words: musical studies, then Alma, and now she’s the pastry chef at Nuova Pasticceria Lady

Paola Ziliani, born in 1976, since June 2013 is th

Paola Ziliani, born in 1976, since June 2013 is the pastry chef at NuovaPasticceria Lady in San Secondo Parmense (via Garibaldi 37, tel. +39.0521.872388)

Pasticceria Lady was born in 1993 as an ice cream and coffee shop and then broadened its activity. Initially, it was only run by women, among whom there was owner Catia Bonini; when her husband Angelo Pezzarossa joined the business, it added the word “Nuova” to its name. For the past four years it has been in Gambero Rosso’s exclusive list of “Italy’s best bars” with“three cups” and “three coffee beans”.

We only use the best raw materials. Our coffee comes from Gianni Frasi’s Torrefazione Giamaica, it’s delicious; our flour is only Italian, from Molino Quaglia; chocolate is exclusively Valrhona’s; Tahiti and Bourbon vanilla come from Madagascar, jams are produced by small artisans... Our production in the laboratory includes a wide range of excellent products. An example? For breakfast we offer a very wide selection of croissants, French pastries, kranz, saccottini, bomboloni, muffins (with spelt flour too)... We’re proud to use Grossi old barley with which we prepare some of our strong suits: polacche, girelle, pastries, veneziane, adoughnut filled with milk cream and “Dolce Amaro”, in which the cereal meets Valrhona 40%Jivara chocolate. Our panettoneis enriched with Salvatore Murana’s beautiful candied fruit and raisins fromPantelleria: we leave it to soak for at least two weeks in syrup we created ourselves.

I am the pastry chef at Nuova Pasticceria Lady since June 2013. I arrived there after a long journey, which began when I was young and I would help my parents and pay my studies in music. In fact I graduated in Western concert flute from ScuolaCivica di Musica in Milan, but didn’t have the passion that is necessary for my profession. I therefore changed many jobs – from shop assistant to barman, from clerical worker to ice cream maker – until the day I read on the Internet about a school of high cuisine called Alma.

I’ve always liked cooking, so I decided to invest in myself: in August 2011 I enrolled in Alma’s course for professional pastry making. It was an excellent choice though the journey wasn’t easy: workshops, exams every week, a ton of info I hadto assimilate quickly... Followed by 4 months of internship, for me an unforgettable experience with Luca Montersino, in his workshop in Piedmont. Finally, in April 2012 I received the panted for diploma: I’m always grateful to my master, Giuseppe Gagliardi, for bequeathing me his profound love for this profession.

Ziliani with a special colleague, Franco Aliberti

Ziliani with a special colleague, Franco Aliberti

My first work experience was at Eataly Roma’s restaurant Italia, where I was called by Gianluca Esposito: in his team he always wants many students from Alma because he knows how they work... It was a memorable adventure, despite the initial difficulties. I then worked as pastry-chef and sous chef at Bollicine Bistrot in Parma with chef Lucia Cagnoni, and finally at Nuova Lady. I entered tiptoeing and now I’m the pastry chef. Sara Ceccarelli and Paola Carlascio work with me, they both graduated from Alma and completed an internship at Nuova Lady; Daniele Dallaturca, instead, attended catering school.

It is also thanks to their help that I was able to create some of my best cakes. I’m referring to Cambiamenti, with a white chocolate and lemon mousse, a filling of cherries with rose water and vanilla sponge cake. Or Evoluzione, a modern version of the classic “Duchessa di Parma”, which I designed together with Paola Carlascio: it is composed of hazelnutdacquoise, hazelnut mousse, chocolate pastry, zabaglione mousse. And Maya, an idea I had a few months ago: made with pollen crumble, forest honeydew mousse and a mandarin geléefilling. The project I’m currently working on? A recipe with nine types of chocolate.

Chefs' life stories

Men who, for a moment, leave pots and pans to tell us their experience and point of view


Paola Ziliani

Pastry chef at Nuova Pasticceria Lady in San Secondo Parmense, Emilia Romagna region

Author's articles list