Food is certainly one of the most distinctive elements of Sicily. The local tradition, often reworked and modernized, gives a note of color (and taste!) to the history of the island. Sicilian Secrets brings you on a journey into taste through the words of the famous chef from Palermo Natale Giunta.
He comes from Termini Imerese in the province of Palermo. Notoriety arrived thanks to many years of experience and television due to his participation at La Prova del Cuoco. Chef, entrepreneur, artist. This is the profile of Natale Giunta.
Q: Where does your passion for cooking come from? What made you get closer to this world?
A: It is a passion that I have cultivated since I was a child. My mother had a grocery store, when some of her aunts moved to Sicily from Greece, I was engaged by their love for cooking. Since they were influenced by the Mediterranean culture, they used to bake some delicious Greek sweets. I have lived with them for many years and the food has become my Playstation! Then I attended the school, of course, and carried on this infinite passion.
Q: Natale Giunta and his art. How do you create a new dish? What’s your inspiration?
A: Everything comes from how I feel in that moment and the ingredients that I have in my hands. If I feel good, it’s enough to put together some new elements and the experience until it comes out what I’m looking for. When I imagine a new dish I see it, I can taste its flavor and smell the scent.
Q: How much does your being Sicilian influence your work?
A: I consider it a plus! For example, let’s think about my accent … I like to stress it, especially on TV. Every day I always try to use what my land offers. We have the sea, salt, citrus fruits, grapes … an infinite resource. For those who do my job, it is a sort of open-air university.
Q: Are you strongly bound up to the Sicilian gastronomic tradition or do you prefer to try something new?
A: I am bound up to Sicilian food, it’s a key element of my art. I like to create gourmet recipes, modernize some historical dishes, make some dishes lighter, etc. I think this is the secret that led me to where I am now.
Q: What is the creation signed by Natale Giunta that you love most and would define your forte?
A: Without a doubt, it’s a dish made of red mullet with fennel, mint, eggplant, smoked provola cheese and tomato!
Q: Do you think that the increasing presence of the chefs on TV is dismissing or on the contrary giving prestige to this profession?
A: If what we see on TV is done by professionals, it can also give the necessary boost to enhance our profession. I think that the word chef is overrated: in the past you became a chef after 20 years in the kitchen, now even after 2 months! We must be humble.
Q: You are one of the first to be on TV at La Prova del Cuoco, what does this experience mean to you?
A: I was 25 when I started the first episode of La Prova del Cuoco. It is something that makes you famous, but it made me understand that humility is the only way to succeed. I have a good relationship both with people who managed the show in the past and those who do it today. I tried to convey who I really am making my personality stand out. I’m a serious professional, people at home follow me and I’m happy.
Q: What’s Natale Giunta’s advice for all young people who want to approach this profession?
A: To start this work requires to make a lot of sacrifices: no holidays, no spare times, no weekend. If this passion comes into your heart, never leaves. If you fall in love with it, it’s the most beautiful job in the world!