In Class News

September 6, 2018 at 11:09 am

Food in Sicily Students Meet with Chef’s Table Star

Food in Sicily students “mob” Chef Corrado Assenza in Caffé Sicilia, Noto, Sicily, shown here in a group photo.

Food in Sicily students “mob” Chef Corrado Assenza in Caffé Sicilia, Noto, Sicily.

Students from the 2018 Food in Sicily study away spent almost three weeks studying the connection between food and culture on the Mediterranean’s largest island.

They perfected pasta-making skills, took turns stirring vats of whey for ricotta and wove braids of mozzarella. They ate their share and then some of gelato. They volunteered at a church soup kitchen, learning from parishioners who took them under their wing, how to peel potatoes and chop vegetables for a crowd.

But for many, the highlight of the trip was the trip to Caffé Sicilia in the city of Noto. Declared a Unesco World Heritage Site for its magnificent Baroque cathedral and townhall, Noto is the site of an international flower festival that draws thousands of visitors annually.

The Food in Sicily students, however, headed straight for Caffé Sicilia on Noto’s main street to taste the creations of Sicily’s star pastry chef, Corrado Assenza.

Chef’s Table, the acclaimed Netflix series which examines the work of culinary artists around the world, featured Assenza, the fifth generation owner of Caffé Sicilia in its latest season that focuses on desserts across the globe. The students, assigned the episode during their study away orientation, found Corrado’s passion for excellence and his commitment to sourcing the best of Sicilian ingredients eye-opening.

Assenza has also dedicated himself to restoring the Sicilian almond tree—almonds are an essential ingredient in Sicilian desserts. Under threat from more commercial varieties, the Sicilian almond tree requires one-third less water and is a critical part of the island’s biodiversity.

“I was so excited to visit Caffé Sicilia because I knew everything there would have deep roots in Sicilian tradition and would us locally grown ingredients! Plus the food was AMAZING!” Sophia Lingrell shows off her dessert.

“I was so excited to visit Caffé Sicilia because I knew everything there would have deep roots in Sicilian tradition and would us locally grown ingredients! Plus the food was AMAZING!” Sophia Lingrell Food and Nutrition Sciences 2021.

Reflecting on her trip to Noto, COM junior Natalie D’Apolito said, “Visiting Caffe Sicilia allowed me to meet a world-renown pastry chef in his own element, which was truly a dream come true. To be able to taste creations that I had seen on Netflix just a few weeks earlier transformed a simple Chef’s Table episode into a reality, and gave me an experience that I never thought I would have, along with memories that I will never forget.”

The application for Food in Sicily 2019 is now open.

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