At the Tasca d’Almerita winery restaurant, Patrizia Di Benedetto, a pioneer among Sicilian chefs, arrives

Jun 4 2024, 15:16
Patrizia Di Benedetto now leads the kitchen at Capofaro Locanda & Malvasia in Salina. A new addition to Tasca d’Almerita

If there's a name that represents Sicilian haute cuisine, it's Patrizia Di Benedetto. A veteran among the island’s chefs, she opened Bye Bye Blues in Mondello with her husband Antonio Barraco over 30 years ago, earning a Michelin star in 2010 as the first woman in Sicily to do so. Dividing her time between projects in Italy and the East, she is now also at the helm of the kitchen at Capofaro Locanda & Malvasia, the spectacular resort established in 2004 within the Tenuta Capofaro estate on Salina, one of the five properties owned by the Tasca d’Almerita family. Covering 6.5 hectares of vineyards, it stands out among the island's small-scale properties, featuring 27 sea-view rooms, a restaurant, and an attached lighthouse. The estate combines the overwhelming beauty of nature with the refined and intimate elegance of hospitality, drawing energy from its unique setting, nestled between the quiet green vineyards and the blue sea. Some time ago, there was talk of a potential sale to restructure the company after the death of Count Lucio (estimated at one million euros, plus another 7 million for the resort). "Capofaro, led by two women of depth and experience, G.M. Antonella Puglisi and Patrizia," says Alberto Tasca d’Almerita, "represents a further evolution of our idea of Hospitality, contemporary and inclusive."

Patrizia Di Benedetto

Who is Patrizia Di Benedetto

Born in 1960, Patrizia Di Benedetto has marked the history of contemporary Sicilian cuisine. She is recognized for her original approach to the region's tradition. For Capofaro's 2024 season, her approach begins with the land and raw materials, with careful selection focusing not only on product quality but also its impact on an increasingly fragile Mediterranean, aligning with Tasca’s sustainability approach that recently earned B Corp certification. The main idea is simplification, rationalization of menus, and optimization of resources. This is crucial in the island context of Salina, harmonizing with her understanding of the territory "which is not just what you see, a simple geographic reality, but a cultural expression, made up of many other elements that exist and usually remain invisible."

Thus, the cuisine reflects the surrounding territory: sea and vegetables from the estate and nearby suppliers, with some meat offerings, all with a modern, clear, and surprising imprint. "My cuisine is decidedly feminine, and by feminine, I mean a cuisine made of instinct, feeling, creativity," says Patrizia. "A cuisine made of exchanges of knowledge and relationships with the people who inhabit the territory and those who seek its essence, in dialogue with producers, in the exchange of knowledge, in interacting with different landscapes." She is joined in leading the kitchen by resident chef Yuki Matsuguma.

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