The sweet fairy tale of Corrado Assenza, the man of dreams at Identità Milano

First, he speaks about Chef's Table on Netflix, then he presents two delicious recipes at Dossier Dessert. Following his creed: if you can dream it, it’s possible

Corrado Assenza on the stage of the auditorium

Corrado Assenza on the stage of the auditorium

Only forty-eight minutes to complete the first 35 years in the history of Caffè Sicilia in Noto. 

Only forty-eight minutes through which Chef’s Table has made it possible for this fairy tale – the fairy tale of a man and a land, of a vision and a method, charming and exemplary like all fairy tales – to be finally told in every home, in every family, all around the world. 

Assenza with Maddalena Fossati, hostess of the afternoon dedicated to desserts 

Assenza with Maddalena Fossati, hostess of the afternoon dedicated to desserts 

So much so that while it was only thanks to the now famous Netflix-production that on Saturday morning Corrado Assenza had a well-deserved part in the new Identità TV format, it was only thanks to the afternoon lesson in the Auditorium that he proved how those forty-eight minutes, «that have changed the history of Caffè Sicilia»have made the protagonist of this fairy tale even more sober and mindful, if possible. 

«We’re just continuing what we’ve always done for the past 15 years on this stage: building new memories», he said. Having participated in every edition of the congress, he now deals with the sudden media overexposure with his innate understated approach: «Netflix has made it possible for us to exist for a larger public, change their perspective, induce thousands of people to change their holiday destination and travel to Sicily, to Noto. Among other things, it has also forced me to reorganise my work, so that I won’t abandon my laboratory but at the same time I won’t disappoint those who travel such a long way to find me, to have a chat». There are people - Corrado whispers this – that have stayed in Noto, they’ve found a home here, so that they could be around him, so that they could be inspired by him: «Because even if I have a different job – everyone says – I want to work the way you do». 

But how is it that Corrado Assenza works? By betting on the fact that «if you can dream something, it’s possible», the emblematic title of his lesson on Saturday at Dossier Dessert.

If you dream it, for instance, you can build a plated dessert in the shape of a tree with large branches on which a child could climb, on which you can build «games for the palate», to use his same words, around a powerful and benevolent simple shortcrust pastry. 

«We wanted to start from a white canvas, but one that is two hands tall, raised from the millennial history of Sicily»: the pastry is made with Petra Evolutiva flour, the contemporary summary of the farmers’ memories of the Mediterranean area, the metaphor of an aware return to nature’s wisdom. «We have discovered – Assenza says – that when it becomes a biscuit, Evolutiva reveals a lightness like no other, when it comes into contact with the saliva, it grows like cream, with its strong flavour of wheat, made sweeter by the zest of the femminelli siracusani lemons which we added so it could preserve all their essential oils and amplify them». 

So the surprisingly creamy texture of the pastry and the secret citrusy soul play with the rest of the dessert; on the ground, an ethereal parfait of saffron from Navelli; and above, inserted on the large pastry trunk, the natural sweetness of a cream with doppio fior di latte with pears, in a dialogue with the aromatic richness of the chocolate cream, made with Macaè cocoa water, which Valrhona makes through a long fermentation and a slow drying of the forastero seeds in Brazil. In this case too, there’s a hidden secret: the orange, so that the mind will always return to the origins, to Sicily. 

«What’s important - is Assenza’s mantra – is that the pear tastes like real pear, the lemon like real lemon, the orange like real orange, the chocolate like real cocoa. The rest will happen freely in each one’s palate, and will be freely generated again in a new shape, each time you taste it».

The same applies to the second dessert, literally drawn on the plate, finally presenting at the congress – after so many winter editions – the colours of Sicilian spring, using the same techniques but applied to vegetables instead of fruits: Cream of carrots, cream of parsley whit sheep’s milk, a cream of doppio fior di latte with peas, all surrounding a mousse of Araguani chocolate, with its deep and persistent Venezuelan heart, and the Noto Romana almonds. 

«Here they are again: they change, they grow, they mature, but they’re always ideas». Because if you can dream it, it’s possible. Word of Corrado.

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso

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Concetta Bonini


Concetta Bonini

Born in 1987, she’s a professional journalist stubbornly tied to Modica. She’s a sommelier on constant training. Every day she travels around “continental Sicily” in search for food and wine stories, people and businesses. She’s convinced every farmer deserves a novel 

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