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Ciccio Sultano

Ciccio Sultano

It had become clear that Ciccio had found something he loved, and moreover, something he had natural talent for. As his abilities grew, so did his thirst for new knowledge. ‘I was never satisfied,’ he says. ‘I always wanted to achieve more. At seventeen I started buying magazines like Grand Gourmet, to read about chefs like Paul Bocuse, Alain Chapel and Alain Ducasse. I documented all the recipes and taught myself new techniques.

‘I wanted to begin to explore the quality of ingredients, and start working with the farmers,’ Ciccio continues. ‘One day, the managers of the spaghetteria tried to convince me that using the very best ingredients all the time wasn’t feasible for business. ‘You’ll understand when you have your own place,’ they said. So, that was it. I left to open my own place.’

Ciccio knew he would have his own restaurant one day, but he was still hungry to improve and experience as much as he could. He spent time in Germany honing his meat cookery, then crossed the Atlantic to work with Lidia Bastianich in New York. More than anything else, time spent away from home helped Ciccio understand what it was about Sicilian cuisine that was so important to him. ‘It’s the generosity of it,’ he explains. ‘Generosity is a particular feature of Sicilians. It’s something I am very proud of, and I display that in all of my dishes – the generosity of giving myself to every plate.’

It only takes a cursory glance at Ciccio’s food to see that these dishes are unmistakably his. His playful, artistic flair is always on display, and his plates are a unique combination of his avant garde character and his love and respect for the food of his home. On returning to Sicily, Ciccio opened Ristorante Duomo in Ragusa in the year 2000, and the restaurant has displayed his pioneering Sicilian haute cuisine ever since, winning a Michelin star in 2004, then receiving a second two years later. Never one to be satisfied, Ciccio has more recently opened ‘I Banchi’ in 2015 – his modern interpretation of a traditional trattoria, which serves more traditional Sicilian fare with less formality than his two star restaurant.

Three things you should know

Before he started life in the kitchen, Ciccio worked as a bricklayer when he was just nine years old.

Ciccio has his own small range of Italian products for sale at the restaurants, including red tuna bottarga, panettone and passata.

Ciccio also has his own farm project, where he is raising free-range chickens just outside the gates of Ragusa.