Domenico Di Clemente

crediti: Brambilla - Serrani

crediti: Brambilla - Serrani

Pasticceria Martesana

via Cagliero, 14

«That afternoon in Bisceglie, my brother Leonardo and I were running like crazy after a ball. There were no courtyards in the south, we played in the streets. Do they still do it? Anyway, my brother picked up a leaflet from the ground, a pastry-cooking course at Etoile. It changed our lives», Domenico Di Clemente fishes among his memories from the good old days and smiles. What would have happened had the youngest brother not picked that piece of paper? Sliding doors, who knows.

The first of four brothers, their father a farmer, while the mother was at home taking care of the brood, the career of the pastry chef at the Four Seasons in Florence starts in that old “courtyard”, following the footsteps of his brother Leonardo who is now the executive chef at the Four Seasons in Prague. Sweet for the former, savoury for the latter, they both start working with pots and pans after middle school, to support their dad. «When I see guys who come out of catering school and are already lost after the first day of work, I remember my years as commis, working hard for who knows how many hours and in the moonlight too», these memories are told out loud by the sweet chef, the rhythm marked by an accent that is no longer the one he had as a kid in the south. Five years spent washing pots in the bar round the corner, and then off to the Etoile, sitting at the desks where in the Nineties Moreno Cedroni and Massimiliano Alajmo, just to name two of many, were studying. The masters teaching there included Bruno Pastorelli, Paul Ray, Sergio Mei, «he was a father as well as a mentor for my brother and I». During his training years he made significant meetings as with Cristian Beduschi in Cortina, and from here to Ravenna with Stefano Laghi. The super champion from Cast Alimenti shows and opens for him the many doors of pastry making, all leading to different directions – laboratory, ice cream, plated dessert – each requiring commitment and a different type of creativity.

Domenico Di Clemente’s craveable identity is defined by an organization and a cake. The latter is the pastry chef’s signature dish in the menu at the Four Seasons, that is to say a crispy cereal bar with caramel and chocolate cremoso, the only concession to modernity given by the two rising notes of salt, then gliding towards the sweeter and more traditional certainties offered by Piedmontese hazelnuts ice cream. The organisation instead goes under the PASS121 acronym, which stands for Passion, Alchemy, Science, Dream [Sogno], while 121 represents the temperature sugar syrup must reach in order to become an Italian style meringue. This is the name of the organization uniting eleven stars in Italian haute pâtisserie, among them (only) one girl called Loretta Fanella and only one ambition: releasing sweet cooking from the restrictions of laboratory production but also from the constraints of the next master chef. Isn’t “The strength of freedom” the theme of IG 2016, after all? For Di Clemente this is the year of his first time.

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Sonia Gioia

A journalist by profession, curious by vocation, she applies her attitude to investigative reports and food features. She's author for Repubblica, Gambero Rosso, Dispensa​