Sexy chef: Ciccio Sultano, Key Foodplay Ingredient: Cheese

Sexy chef: Ciccio Sultano, Key Foodplay Ingredient: Cheese


Ciccio Sultano is the head chef and owner of the 2 Michelin Star restaurant, Il Duomo, situated in the heart of baroque Sicily – Ragusa Ibla.  Through his experience in the kitchen and research – Ciccio has developed his own, new interpretation of the forgotten flavours of traditional Sicily.

As part of our inaugural Foodgasms Venuti’s Sicilia tour, and after admiring his food for many years, we were so very fortunate to have Ciccio welcome us into his family home.   In his own kitchen, we participated in a private 9 course cooking lesson – where Ciccio was assisted by his business partner and sommelier – Valerio, and assistant chef -Marco.

We learned about Ciccio’s magical and enviable techniques in creating foodgasms – so meticulous and accurate in every single step he takes that we felt like we were watching a genius at work.  We of course also joined Ciccio and his significant team later at the restaurant, Il Duomo, to experience his 12 course degustation (sequilla) dinner with matching Sicilian wines.

This was truly the highlight of our Foodgasms Sicily tour – and we’re so happy to share with you this interview of Ciccio’s foodgasm experiences along with his recipe of how to create foodgasms using the key ingredient – CHEESE  (Ragusano – typical of the region, as well as Ricotta).  Buon appetito xxx

Ciccio, what lit your passion to cook? 

When I was a teenager I loved to read cooking magazines instead of comics.  In my life, I wanted to find my passion and purpose – and I did that with cooking. La cucina (the kitchen) gives me full satisfaction every day.

You’ve chosen CHEESE (Ragusano and Ricotta) as your key Foodplay ingredient.  What are your secret techniques in using Cheese to ‘Hit the Spot’?  

That is simple – choose and use the best of the best cheese and ricotta.  There is no substitute for quality ingredients.

Your Foodgasms recipe - Ravioli with Ricotta, Marjoram, and Ragusano

ravioli plate

Ingredients

Ravioli dough:

  • 300g flour (durum wheat)
  • 150g flour (00 – plain)
  • 20 egg yolks
  • 100ml water
  • 1g saffron

Filling:

  • 1kg Ricotta cheese
  • Marjoram
  • Olive oil – extra virgin

Sauce:

  • 200g grated Ragusano cheese 
  • Simple basic tomato sauce : Refer  recipe

Directions

  1. For the dough: Bring water to the boil with the saffron and allow to cool.  Mix all of the ingredients for the dough (in a mixer) until the dough becomes smooth and homogenous.  Allow to stand for 1 hour in the fridge.
  2. For the filling: Pass the ricotta through a sieve, then mix with the marjoram and olive oil to taste.  Place the mix in a single use plastic piping bag.
  3. To make the ravioli: Stretch the dough out with a pasta machine to the thinnest setting (usually 1), and make two equal layers.  On the first layer, pipe ricotta curls at about a 4cm distance from each other.  Spray a little water on top and then cover with the second pasta sheet.  Use a ravioli cutter to shape and cut the ravioli into perfect rounds.
  4. To serve and for the sauce:  Cook the ravioli in salted, boiling water.  In a pan, heat the tomato sauce, and ragusano cheese.  Serve in warm soup plates, tomato on the bottom, sprinkled with extra ragusano grated cheese.

ravioli filling

You have been able to take the best of Sicilian flavours and combine these with your own innovative style.  How do you ‘create’ in the kitchen? 

Before creating in the kitchen… I create in my soul.  I sense every vibration the food emanates.. and then let this vision take shape in my kitchen.

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

It would depend on the moment and the season.  Now, in summer, I think I would choose a slightly spicy pasta.  I would make homemade spaghetti with some red chilli, aromatic flavours, and fresh fish.

And finally… WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST MEMORABLE FOODGASM?  

My most memorable Foodgasm would have to be the Sicilian lamb leg and chops Fricassea style with Rosso Del Conte wine.  This dish was created by the famous chef, Mario Lo Menzo, the last Monzu.