Emilia Strazzanti announces their next Sicilian Supper Club, The Opera dei Pupi, showcasing the art of the 18th century Sicilian tradition paired with a five-course Italian feast. Taking place on the 22nd and 23rd March at Hackney Coffee Company, The Opera dei Pupi will be a candlelit dinner hidden in east London. The next in the series which follow Strazzanti’s November and February suppers celebrating Sicilian Orange Groves and the romance of Sicily’s Almond Blossom harvest respectively will see east London Sicilian Puppets suspended over the tables and cascading red candles decorating the room. Read her breathtaking story here.

 

Why did you decide on cooking professionally?

Cooking became my life from a young age, it saved me through a lot of tough times and it naturally became my career when at 16 I had to make a decision to continue at school or train at chef college and all I wanted to do was cook, so I did!

 

Every career starts with hard moments when you think about giving up. Were there such moments in your career, and how did you overcome them?

Yes, many of them and even still now especially with my own business things get harder. I worked within high established restaurants and hotels and the work load, stress and hours were not easy and at times even psychically I struggled to keep up but I had a dream and ambition and that dream and dedication kept me going.

 

What is the best part of being a chef?

Seeing those around you smile, feeling full and content after eating your food, you just created a memory for them an experience for them to remember.

 

What are some of the lesser known spices and vegetables you use?

Sicilian fresh wild fennel herb, found growing wildly all over Sicily with a distinct flavour used often with Sardine Pasta, raisins and pine nuts.

 

Which unique cooking technique have you mastered?

How to handle an aubergine, I kid you not…. if you cook an aubergine badly it is one of the worst things to eat and such a shame as they are so beautiful and versatile and an integral ingredient to Sicilian cuisine.

 

What motto do you have for your work and life?

You only live once, so go for it! and if you fail at least you failed trying and you learnt something from it, so don’t give up just try again just remember to learn from your failures and to grow.

 

What situations have helped you the most in your development as a chef?

Making mistakes and not being ashamed to ask why something didn’t work from my superiors, because then and only then I truly learnt and it enabled me to understand how to fix a problem alone when one occurred.

 

What makes you happy?

Remembering my childhood memories through the food we cooked and ate.

 

Did your career as a chef change you as a person and if so, how?

Yes, I had to adapt my character to survive the tough world of kitchen life and I didn’t like it or being surrounded by it either so one day I decided I really wasn’t happy living this way and wanted to be me again and to remember why I chose to cook professionally in the first place, for my love of food. So I created a new way of living for myself and created my own style of working, where me and my team get to enjoy being are true selves in an 8 hour working day instead of being pressured to conform to the stress and stereotypical life of a chef.

 

If you would have the time to write a book, what would it be about?

My journey of self discovery through food, my childhood nostalgia and my travels in Italy and Sicily.

 

Thank you Emilia.

 

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