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Grana Padano

Panettone 1 & 2

Ankara was a celebration for the final step of La Vita è Dolce World Tour


La Vita è dolce arrived in Ankara, the capital of Turkey for the final step of our World Tour. Panettone was the protagonist at Mezzaluna Restaurant where Executive Chef Daniel Evangelista featured in the menu his Panettone with Parmigiano´s Fonduta and Amarena for one week. But he didn´t stop there, this week long celebration had an anteprima organised by Daniel in collaboration with the local Italian Institute of Culture: for two days Francesco Elmi, the executive pastry chef who realised all the step by step recipes of La Vita è dolce was a special guest and conducted courses of pasticceria italiana with great success and a huge press turn up. (see photo left: Francesco Elmi, Daniel Evangelista and Roberto Mastrogiorgio who will take over as Mezzaluna´s Executive Chef starting this month while Daniele takes a new challenge as Executive Chef of the Grand Plaza Ramada Hotel) LVED has been a wonderful experience for us at itchefs-gvci, for our chefs and our readers. The objective of La Vita è Dolce, as we said at the beginning of this journey, is to reassert the authenticity of il dolce and to save it from excessive and unnecessary falsifications.A way to contiue with our task of enhancing the appreciation of Italian cuisine, in this case pasticceria, around the world!

1. Daniel´s version of Panettone at Mezzaluna, 2. Francesco and Daniel teaching the pastry course, 3. Elmi painting on a model with chocolate as apeared in the Turkish press, 4. Group picture with students

Nicola Fabbri: “The future of the Italian dolce in the world? Tradition made modern”


The role of dolce (not dessert) and pasticceria in Italian restaurants around the world is widely analyzed in this interview with Nicola Fabbri, the CEO of Fabbri 1905, which is a notable Italian brand, leader in the market of products and solutions for gelato, pastry, coffee and mixed drinks. Fabbri 1905 has been the sponsor of La Vita è Dolce. Mr Fabbri, a GVCI member since the beginning in 2001, thanks to his intense business travelling is above all a documented expert of the Italian restaurant scene in the world.

Q. You are probably one of those who have eaten the most Italian cooking abroad. If you had to work it out more or less, how many Italian restaurants would you say you have eaten in, and in how many countries?
R. For a long time during my professional life, I made myself not eat at Italian restaurants while I was abroad, because I wanted to become acquainted with the local cuisine and the place’s specialties. Then I met the chefs of the GVCI and everything changed. Now I’m committed to visiting as many Italian restaurants as I can in whichever country or city I find myself in, specifically to ‘feel out’ the level of our cuisine in the world. To give an exact number of the countries or of the restaurants is really difficult for me, because I’ve been traveling more than six months a year for the last 24 years. But I can say that I’ve visited all the continents from the artic circle to the Cape of Good Hope and that I’ve tried at least a thousand types of tiramisù.

Nicola Fabbri en Tuttofood
Nicola Fabbri at Tuttofood in La vita è dolce´s presentation

Q. According to your experience, how important is the carta dei dolci for an Italian restaurant abroad to achieve success as well as high quality? Where have you seen – and tried – the most interesting things and the most depressing?
R. Just recently, I happened to find in one of our restaurants the ‘carta dei dessert’ – which made me go wild because in an Italian restaurant it ought to be called the ‘carta dei dolci’. The attention to the quality and quantity of the things selected and handled for savoury foods as well as the wines can unfortunately not be perceived as being applied to dolci. I mention quantity because it is an essential element for making a quality-dining dolce enjoyable as opposed to something similar to a nightmare. What a shame; everybody knows that the diner remembers the last thing that he or she has eaten, and nevertheless, by bad luck he or she wants to taste a dolce; too often it’s submerged in poorly mixed and badly graduated custards and calories or worse, he or she is confronted with a slice of defrosted, industrial cake. I can’t distinguish country by country, sadly it’s a generalised situation.

Famous Amarena Fabbri
The Famous Amarena Fabbri

Q. Is the dolce within Italian cuisine abroad tradition or creativity?
R. In this case as in others, I’m a great fan of tradition made modern; let me explain myself: our cooking has truly ancient roots, in comparison central heating is a newborn and a few decades ago, nobody had any idea of the existence of cholesterol. Luckily and in difference to our transalpine cousins, amongst us, our habits and customs, and no less importantly, our finances have always been extremely different, thus we’ve inherited recipes that are of very high quality, not only as far as taste is concerned but also organoleptically and nutritionally as well. However, it’s necessary to make them more consistent with modern nutrition by adjusting the quantities and, at times, the cooking methods in order to make them more digestible for and enjoyable to modern consumers. For me, the perfect restaurant is the one that allows me to savour everything fully without making me get up from the table feeling overly heavy. It’s not impossible; many of my GVCI friends have taken up this path with great success.

Q. If you had the task of composing a carta dei dolci as an Italian restaurateur abroad, what would you include?
R. I love chocolate, so I wouldn’t be able to turn down a torta Barozzi – really bitter with just a touch of coffee, or a pastiera revised and presented as a soufflé – a lemon delight, nor could we ever do without gelato – summer berry sorbetto, or gelato di pistacchio di Bronte, an autumn walnut and candied fig gelato or otherwise a winter hazelnut, gianduja or zabajone gelato.

Q. Why do you think we have so few Italian pastry cooks in the world?
R. Because we don’t have the culture of the refined dolce that became so highly developed in the French and Austrian courts. It’s because of this that the world of the restaurant industry finds the art of the dolce monopolised by these two schools. The schools of cooking, the academies and the various universities of food science that have appeared in Italy in recent years have, by their own admission, dedicated little time and few resources to dolci. Who’s ever heard of Marchesi or Vissani or Paracucchi holding a class on any kind of Italian dolce whatsoever?

Q. Gelato is still booming on a worldwide scale. Patriotism aside, what should be aimed at in order to maintain its Italian leadership and identity at cultural and commercial levels?
R. In this regard, we have no rivals, we’re the number one in the world and we dictate the rules. Gelato, thanks to the individual effort of thousands of men and women who have risked their own savings to set up gelaterie in every corner of the Earth, is unanimously considered to be an Italian delicacy. We mustn’t let this national treasure escape from our hand.

Nicola Fabbri with itchefs´ Igor Macchia, Giovani Grasso and Elena Ruocco

Q. How?
R. The institutions don’t even know who are behind this phenomenon, the associations of category are strictly national and squabble with each other; the only entity that watches over this sector at an international level is the AIIPA the spine of the Confindustria that encloses the enterprises that operate in this market. Once again, the only way to both defend and broaden the horizons of quality artisan Italian gelato is in our hands, that is in the hands of the enterprises that produce quality semi-finished goods, of the operators who open gelaterie that are more and more attractive and modern, of the restaurateurs who don’t fall to the lures of industry-made gelato with the mask of ‘home-made’ when placed on the table. We Italians alone have produced our stature. We’ve had no institutions to help us promote our cuisine, although all too often, there have been some to ruin our image. We know how to generate success, we are trying to complete our work and make our diners fall in love with our splendid, fluffy dolci.


Elena Ruocco and Il Laboratorio del Panettone in Rio de Janeiro


Elena Ruocco, co-promoter and co-ordinator of La Vita è dolce, is leading an exciting project in collaboration with Sitio do Moinho.

Together they set up to produce an organic PANETTONE in Rio de Janeiro following the traditional recipes and using organic Italian flours. The Sitio do Moinho of Dick and Angela Thompson, the biggest organic producer in the state of Rio de Janeiro, has pioneered since 1989 the expansion of the organic market in Brazil. They inaugurated almost 5 years ago the first organic bakery, the Molino D’Oro, and since then began importing all the raw material for their bakery from Italy. It has been said that behind each flavor there is a history, a culture and stories. “The role of chefs working outside of Italy is to contribute with their work to have that history, that culture, understood”, says Elena Ruocco who adds: “My work with Panettone in Rio goes along the same lines of La Vita è Dolce initiative”- Elena also says: “We aim at rescuing authentic traditions of Italian cuisine and pasticceria, to protect them from being counterfeited and to defend the right of consumers to enjoy genuine, flavorful and healthy dishes. Another brick OUT of the wall that too often hide part of our gastronomical value”.

Below, images of Elena at work with the staff of Sitio do Moinho, with her Sivaldo Bomfim dos Santos, José Sebastião Zauza Oliveira, Ronaldo Alves Fernandes, Rafael Corrêa da Silva. (Please click on the images to enlarge them.)

Photography: Charlotte Valade



La Vita è dolce in Ankara with Daniel Evangelista at Mezzaluna (and Francesco Elmi as a Guest)


La Vita è dolce arrives in Ankara, the capital of Turkey. Panettone is the protagonist of the 17th step of the worldwide tour in Mezzaluna restaurant where the Executive Chef is the Milano born Daniel Evangelista. For Panettone is a come back since with this dolce the tour started in Turin, Italy, at La Credenza Restaurant (San Maurizio canavese) with Giovanni Grasso and Igor Macchia. The week long celebration had already an anteprima organised by Daniel in collaboration with the local Italian Institute of Culture: for two days Francesco Elmi, the executive pastry chef who realised all the step by step recipes of La Vita è dolce has been a special guest and conducted courses of pasticceria italiana.

Panettone with Parmigiano´s Fonduta and Amarena

Daniel Evangelista is a talented chef who completed his education at hotel school management in 1990 and supported by his seasonal and evening work experiences reached the rank of chef, while working in several restaurants in Milan. To satisfy his desire to learn new cuisine cultures he moved to Paris where, together with chef Aristide Devita, newly graduated from Alain Ducasse - The Cortile founded the restaurant Fra Diavolo. Daniel went then to Sydney where he opened another successful restaurant in Little Italy. Finally he landed in Ankara where in the last eight years he has opened a number of restaurants, managing the Mezzaluna´s cuisines at the same time.



Daniel never stopped to enhance his culinary and gastronomy culture: he has been promoting Italian cuisine at the Green Palace IC Hotel Antalya as well as at the Imperial Sheraton Hotel of Kuala Lumpur in Malasia. He has also attended several stages at the most famous school of culinary excellence, including Gualterio Marchesi´s Alma in Colorno - Italy, in these occasions he has enjoyed the chance of meeting with some of great pastry chefs such as Iginio Massari.


Kocatepe Mosque, Ankara

Panettone. Interview with Giorilli: “Leavening is the key”

The 17th step of La Vita è Dolce is dedicated again to Panettone, the highly seductive Italian dolce. “Panettone offers the palate the emotion of a warm shiver of pleasure and a profound trace of fragrance”, says Maestro Piergiorgio Giorilli, one of the most talented bread (and Panettone) makers in the world, in this exclusive interview realised by Elena Ruocco, the coordinator of La Vita è Dolce Tour.

Click here for history, curiosities and step by step recipe of panettone.

Piergiorgio Giorilli began working in his father bakery in 1959. He soon became a respected bread maker who devoted increasingly time to study techniques and to teach them. Giorilli is possibly the most charismatic educator in this field in Italy. Click here for a complete profile of Maestro Giorilli.

1. Panettone is one of the most world-famous of Italy’s sweetened breads. In your opinion, what is teh source of its seduction?
Panettone seduces because its characteristics are such that they make it the only sweet in the world that offers the palate the emotion of a warm shiver of pleasure and a profound trace of fragrance. Also being related to Christmas, panettone has a strong symbolic value within the Italian gastronomic culture.

2. Does panettone belong to the patrimony of confectionary or to that of bread making?
Panettone belongs to both the patrimonies of the confectionary and the bread making; it belongs to the category of the great leavened creations.

3. What tips can you give for obtaining a quality product?
In order to obtain a quality panettone it is necessary to use quality ingredients that have been selected and proportioned with know-how.

4. Do you remember any really bad panettone? What was wrong about them? And how many bad imitations have you come across in your career?
Unfortunately, even today it is all too easy to find really bad quality panettone that have obviously been placed on the market at low cost and are no more than poor imitations of panettone.

Mother Yeast

5. Leavening is fundamental for panettone. What is natural yeast, its preparation, its maturity, its preservation and the improvements that it contributes to the product?
Leavening is the foundation of success when making panettone! It is not possible to explain in just a few lines what natural yeast is. Treaties have been written about it but there is still plenty more to be understood about it. Natural yeast is nothing other than a piece of soured dough made out of flour and water and left to mature in an environment for a longer or shorter period. During this period of maturing, the microorganisms that are present it the flour, the water and the air reproduce and ferment. The main microorganisms are of the stocks Saccaromyces and Lactobacillus, from which the two types of this fermentation are derived: alcoholic and lactic. By using natural yeast for the production of panettone, we obtain the lengthening of its preservation by some months as well as a unique fluffiness of the product.

6. Which are the critical points for the preparation of panettone?
There are many critical points in the preparation of panettone. First and foremost, the mother yeast must be of optimum quality, the temperature of the dough, the correct leavening between the first and second kneading and the ingredients that during the second kneading must be added slowly, especially the sugar at the beginning of the second kneading.

7. It is obviously something else when natural yeast is used, but can a good panettone be obtained by using beer yeast?
Without a doubt it is possible to obtain a good panettone using beer yeast. However, it will not have the same preservability or the same taste as one prepared with mother yeast. Furthermore, in panettone prepared with beer yeast it is not possible to incorporate the same quantity of eggs and butter.

8. When you begin a panettone making course, what are first things you teach to your students?
When I start teaching a panettone making course, all the main notions usually have essentially to do with the treatment of the mother yeast.

Italian Spumante

9. Can a good panettone be made at home? And if so, how?
A good panettone can be made even at home. It is necessary to have a small table mixer at disposal and to follow the same rules as the baker and the confectioner.

10. What do you advise drinking with panettone?
An Italian spumante, of course.

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