Food blogger, photographer and cooking lover. Peppe Cantone exports Sicily through his work, he tells not only about his hometown, Menfi, but even about the beauty of the whole island. He believes in the value of traditions and has been chosen by Averna as one of the characters that best represent Made in Sicily. Sicilian Secrets interviewed him.
Q: Food blogger, photographer and above all Sicilian: how do you combine these three dimensions?
A: If you put these three words together, you can create a perfect combination for a happy life, like mine. They are the basic elements of everyday life: good food is perhaps what we humans have in common, photography is certainly interesting for many people, but only a few of them really know how to appreciate and read it. Sicily? I believe that it is in the heart of all of us. To feel it, just live it!
Q: Peppe Cantone, let’s talk about your fame on social media and about your passion for photography. How did you approach this world?
A: I love photography since I was about 10 years old, I remember that I got my first camera for my first communion. When I grew up, I opened my mind and love for traditional food led me to immortalized it to share it with someone else. After several unsuccessful attempts on my personal Facebook profile, in 2013 I discovered Instagram and started sharing and being appreciated more and more every day by hundreds of users who used to visit my page. Within a few years, followers increased and now have become 100 thousand.
Q: You are one the characters chosen by Averna to best describe Sicily, what does this recognition mean for you?
A: For me, being one of the testimonials of a brand as famous in the world as Averna is a real honor, it makes me feel truly Sicilian. I have always seen Averna as something to drink during family celebrations, a symbol of peace, union and tradition.
Q: You live in Menfi, how do you feel the bond with your homeland and how do you express it through your work?
A: I live in Menfi and I would never change it. Here I have my family and my dearest friends, I have the sea, the countryside…I really have everything. I live here and it is partially thanks to my job. Every day I mainly communicate the soul of my land, and in order to describe and photograph it, I need to feel it in my heart, I need to be immersed in it. I am really upset when I hear about young people but also adults who leave our island to find a job, unfortunately Sicily is still ‘forgotten’. In my case, it is my own business that holds me here, close to my roots.
Q: ‘Sicilianity’ according to Peppe Cantone: choose one of your photos to express this concept and explain to us why you picked this shot.
A: To answer this question, I would like to leave the floor to all those who follow me. But the choice is up to me, so here is the shot: an alley, a village, an ancient town called Petralia Soprana that takes me back in time, to the years told by my parents, indeed by my grandfather about his youth. That Sicily that despite having almost nothing was rich. What they had was enough to live happily. That’s why I love so much getting lost in the ancient Sicilian villages, I like to imagine the stories of people who lived there, love stories, hate stories…war and hunger.
Q: I know you like to revisit traditional recipes, what’s the dish that makes you very proud?
A: One of the most beautiful and fascinating dishes is i cannilera. They belong to my childhood, talk about Easter and I always remember the days in which I used to make these pastries at home with my mother and my grandmother. I will never forget about the scent of vanilla on walls and in the staircase of our old house.
Q: We are living hard times, do you think your job is important to support some other people while showing them your world?
A: Like me, every day many content creators bring news and waves of images that especially in this period are very appreciated. Slow days in which you can enjoy making good food, or visiting a far away place through a screen, or you can dream while looking at a random beach. Yes, because now what we all do is to dream and imagine the life we will have when this period will end.
Q: Let’s look at the future, are there any projects on Peppe Cantone’s list?
A: We need to have wishes, we need to love and have plans. It is one of the mechanisms of survival. That’s why we must never miss them. Yes, I have some great plans for the future and hope they will become true soon.
Q: …and do you have a professional – hidden – dream?
A: I have both dreams and projects, but as you said, they’re hidden and I cannot tell them! Now they are still kept in my personal ‘treasure chest’, we’ll see. To reveal them? I’ll do it next time, I promise!