Sexy chef: Angelo Pumilia, Key Foodplay Ingredient: Eggplant

Sexy chef: Angelo Pumilia, Key Foodplay Ingredient: Eggplant

Angelo is the head chef at the Planeta Estate in Sicily.  He travels around the world (China, Dubai, Japan to name just a few) teaching people how to cook amazing Sicilian dishes matched with Planeta wine. He has also just opened his own new restaurant – Angelo Tokyo – which specialises in modern Sicilian cuisine with a twist – to suit Japanese tastebuds.

Angelo, what lit your passion to cook?

When I was a little boy, I used to watch my nonna cook.  She would hang up the pasta all around the house – it was like a jungle, I had to duck down to get through to the kitchen.

You’ve chosen EGGPLANT as your key Foodplay ingredient.  What are your secret techniques in using eggplant to ‘Hit the Spot’?

You can prepare eggplant in so many ways.  They allow me to fantasise and create a variety of different recipes – antipasti, pastas, vegetarian dishes, and even sweets!

Your Foodgasms recipe - Caponata



  • 1kg eggplants
  • 1kg onions
  • 500g ripe tomatoes
  • 200g celery
  • 50g salted capers
  • 100g green olives
  • 50ml red wine vinegar
  • 50g sugar
  • 50g toasted almonds
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Frying oil (vegetable, seed)
  • Pinch of sea salt, pepper


  1. Wash, peel and cut the eggplants in cubes of 1.5cm per side.  Depending on the type of eggplants and time of the year, you may need to salt and rinse them beforehand (eg if the eggplants are a little bitter).  Put them in a colander, add salt and let them rest for half an hour in order to let them loose water.  Rinse in fresh water and dry carefully.
  2. Deep fry the eggplants in the oil.
  3. Peel the tomatoes by blanching in boiling water for some seconds, then seed and chop them.
  4. Slice the celery, blanch them in salted water (to retain their colour), and then chill them immediately with iced water to stop the cooking process.
  5. Once pitted, cut the olives in half.  Wash the capers thoroughly.
  6.  In a large pan, let the chopped onions cook in water. Then add the tomatoes (or you can also add homemade tomato paste instead), the celery, season with salt and pepper, and stir fry for 10-12 minutes.
  7. Add olives, capers, vinegar and sugar and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes.
  8. Add the fried eggplants and let the caponata cool off.
  9. You can serve garnished with roasted almonds.

As the head chef at Planeta Estate vineyard, what Planeta wine is recommended to accompany this starter?

The wine I would recommend would be the Planeta Chardonnay.

How important is it to use fresh seasonal vegetables, like eggplant, to Hit the Spot?  

To use seasonal ingredients is the most important thing. If the food is fresh and in season, it follows the natural flow of time and does not need chemicals to preserve… and it costs less too!

There are over 20 different traditional types of caponata in Sicily… is aubergine?

Everyone gives cooking in Sicily a special touch… they take tradition and build on it.  Caponata is a great example of this – I’ve chosen eggplant as it is the most traditional flavour.

Is it true that you always need to salt eggplant? 
No.  Usually we do not salt our eggplant- it depends on the time in the season, how bitter and seeded the eggplant is.  If it has many seeds and is quite bitter then it is best to salt it.

If you had one chance to give someone the best foodgasm of their life, what would you make for them?

I would prepare tuna belly with tomatoes and mustard and eggplant!…  a real Foodgasm.

(This recipe is included in the VIP Multiple Foodgasms members only section)

Spaghetti with sea urchins!

cooking angelo