With Sal De Riso’s biography we conclude our series on the Tre Torte, the highest recognition of Pasticceri e Pasticcerie d'Italia 2017 guide. For the holidays, Maestro de Riso shares a tasty holiday recipe.
Espresso, cappuccinos, cakes, pastries and croissants, cocktails, gourmet pizzas and sublime regional dishes. Sal De Riso in Minori, in the Salerno province, is the brainchild of Salvatore (Sal) De Riso. Master baker, Salvatore has widened his reach to include savory specialties in addition to his bakery prowess. His ambitious venue, 250 square metres, has been awarded the highest recognition, the coveted Tre Torte in the Pasticceri e Pasticcerie d’Italia 2017 guide and Tre Chicchi and Tre Tazzine in the Bar d’Italia 2017 guide.
Beginnings: Sal’s territorial forte
The kitchen designed by De Riso opened its doors in 1988: at that time Sal was 21 and was coming from seven years of experience in the kitchens of major hotels on the Amalfi Coast. “After hotel management school, I immediately started to work in different kitchen brigades but already felt the need to create something that reflected my idea of pastry baking”. And above all, something that gave back to his native land. “The link between food and place of origin was not so obvious in those years. Especially in pastry” he says, and adds: “I was one of the first to create desserts specifically designed to represent a sense of place” In 1988 one of the creations that forever changed the style of Sal’s pastries: the lemon profiterole, “a real novelty at the time. Until then, the profiterole were exclusively chocolate.” The young confectioner designs the lemon variant representative of the Amalfi Coast, and now Amalfi lemons are an essential ingredient in almost all his recipes. In adition to lemons he is now focusing on white figs, apricots, cherries and other products that characterize the flavor of the Amalfi Coast. These are recipes that have made Sal famous among gourmets enthusiasts, such as the Lemon Delizia or the newer Panarea, dedicated to the eponymous island, made with Dop pistachio, almond paste and buffalo milk ricotta.
Style and inspiration
How to describe Sal De Riso’s pastry art? “Simply, my own. It’s unique in and of its kind because it reflects who I am, my way of being and how I work. I always try to add a personal touch to every creation, this is what makes my desserts what they are”. Before developing his own style, Sal followed the advice of great mentors: “It’s not wise to feel satisfied. Comparison is at the base of any healthy personal or professional growth, that’s why I carefully observe what my colleagues are doing ”. Among these, above all, is Iginio Massari the person responsible for Sal’s training “Massari never tells you how to do something. He sends signals, guiding you and leads you on the right path, lending precious tips. The pupil has to be able to pick them up and make good use of them”. This means transforming the advice and translating them into personal creations with a well-defined individual style: “Massari’s lessons are the ones I treasure the most. He is a true Maestro, one capable ofteaching technique and the overall approach in regards to pastry art”.
Venues and staff
The years, sacrifice and hard work since that distant 1988 debut have allowed Sal De Riso to multiply the venues bearing his name: currently 4: the factory in Tramonti, one in Rome, another Rome venue (a takeaway pastry shop) on via Gallia, and the newborn space in Minori, with 53 staff member among office admin, confectionary and bakery employees. “Staff training is very important. I generally choose hotel management graduates whom I work along side of in the initial part of their training. The kitchen team needs to be well oiled and able to work well together”. Especially the one in Minori, where under the same roof are a coffee bar, pastry shop and bistro, featuring a seasonal menu that changes every 3/4 months with traditional Neapolitan dishes as well as a few modern dishes like burgers. Then there’s classic Neapolitan-style pizza. Which is the most popular? “The pizza Amalfi, with fior di latte from Tramonti, prosciutto from Sant’Ilario, Amalfi lemon carpaccio and ginger”.
Training and marketing
In addition to training his staff, Sal De Riso also hosts pastry course in the entire region and beyond: “I work well with Italian Chef Academyin Rome as well as other regional schools in Campania. I love teaching and I’m happy to see an increasing interest in this profession”. This can be due to the growing number of TV cooking and food shows: “I was on TV the first time 15 years ago with the Italian programme La Prova del Cuoco. Since then I have often been called to appear on other channels. I must admit that the visibility TV lends our particular fienld of interest is truly effective”. Same goes for magazine, website and specialized blog traffic: “Editorial products like the ones offered by Gambero Rosso – including its TVchannel – represent a strong marketing tool”. What advice does Sal De Riso lend a young budding pastry chef? “It may sound obvious, bt the main prerequisite is being passionate about what we do. Without love for cooking, this profession becomes an impossible feat, requiring lots of hard work and little to zero free time. If you don’t possess the right amount of tenacious ambition, it’s impossible to succeed”. In addition to spending lots of time on books and studying. “And comparing yourselves to others, always”.
Despite the recent opening of the new space in Minori, Sali s brimming with new interesting ideas. With noto ne but “probably three” new venues in Rome, first of all. Here, “I’d like to mimic the Minori pastry shop/cafe/bistro formula”. Next up, Milan. And then, who knows, perhaps “also in Florence”. Sali s willing to invest in all this on one condition: “I want to be with the new teams in each city we open in. I can see a big difference with the Minori space where I have been present on a daily basis. Work load is more slender for everyone and the structure is more organized, plus I can manage to supervise the entire production line. Vvistrually impossible at a distance”.
For the holidays Sal De Riso shares a classic Christmas Campania specialty, struffoli.
4 whole eggs, beaten
50 g. butter, softened
60 g. white wine
50 g. fructose
1 pinch of salt
500 g. all purpose “00” flour
Lemon, orange and tangerine zest
500 g. honey
Candied fruit, chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
Sift the flour and shape i tinto a crater. Pour the wine, frustose, butter, eggs, salt and citrus zest. Start mixing from the center working outwards and kneading in the flour to obtain a well blended dough. When the ball will be satiny and smooth, wrap it in a plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Flatten the dough and roll out 1-inch ropes. Dust with flour and cut small buttons. Sift the buttons to remove the excess flour and fry them in small batches in boiling olive oil until golden. Fishe them out with a slotted spoon and blot on paper towel. Place the struffoli in a large container with the chopped candied peel, and pour in the honey, mixing with a wooden spoon to coat evenly. Decorate the surface with sprinkles and the candied fruit.
Pasticceria Sal De Riso | Minori (SA) | via Roma, 80 | tel. 089 877941 | www.salderiso.it
by Michela Becchi
translated by Eleonora Baldwin
Pasticceri & Pasticcerie 2017 del Gambero Rosso | Price: 14,90 | Available in newsstands, bookstores and online