savoring sicilian splendor | interview with chef ciccio sultano

In the heart of the sun-dappled island of Sicily, where the azure Mediterranean embraces ancient, storied shores, culinary artistry finds its pinnacle in the creations of Ciccio Sultano. A maestro of flavours, Sultano orchestrates a symphony of taste that resonates with the soul of his homeland, blending the timeless traditions of Sicilian cuisine with a visionary flair that transforms each dish into an edible masterpiece.

As you step into the realm of Ciccio Sultano, you are greeted by an ambiance that whispers of history and heritage — but most importantly, you’re welcomed as if you’re a longtime friend or a visiting family member. The warmth of Sultano and his staff mimics the warmth of the Italian sun — a place where people come together to indulge and enjoy food and the company it brings. It is here, in this haven of gastronomic delight, where every plate that Sultano crafts is a canvas, every ingredient a vibrant brushstroke, painting a vivid tapestry that tells the tale of Sicily’s rich and diverse cultural heritage.

Ciccio Sultano’s culinary journey is one of passion and precision, a harmonious dance of innovation and reverence for the past. Each bite is a journey through time, an exploration of flavours that have been lovingly coaxed from the land and sea, refined by centuries of tradition and elevated by Sultano’s boundless creativity. His cuisine is not merely food; it is an experience, a narrative woven from the threads of history, geography, and the enduring spirit of Sicily.

Schön! visits Ciccio Sultano’s restaurant in Italy to learn more about his work as a chef and discover the true essence of la dolce vita, as seen through the eyes of a master who has dedicated his life to capturing its essence on every plate. 


You emphasise a strong connection to your Sicilian roots in your cooking. How do you balance traditional techniques with modern culinary innovations?

Technique is only a means to express content in the best possible way. Those who think or hope it is the end will limit themselves to style exercises. Technique can be learned, while creativity is different. There are two types of people: those who create and those who copy.

The kitchen of Ciccio Sultano is described as a “hub for training and teaching.” You started at 13, working in a pastry shop, and then had a 7-year apprenticeship. Why is it important to you to create a space where burgeoning chefs to learn under you?

All chefs who have been in the trade for at least fifteen years are potential mentors. Here, every second is a training moment, not just for the gastronomic aspects but also for the entrepreneurial and behavioural ones. It’s a school for all intents and purposes, and precisely, a school where we carry out production to a very high standard.

A chef’s menu is an insight into who they are — how does the menu of Ristorante Duomo reflect you as a chef?

Sicily is the heart of everything I do: this island brought me up as I am today, and I paid her back, putting at her service all I have, from my fingertips to the most secret thought.

Your signature dishes are known for their complexity and flavour balance. Can you take us through the creative process of developing one of your iconic dishes from concept to the plate?

We are not traditional; rather, we challenge traditions. The aim is to rebuild a recipe, disassembling and reassembling its engine and body to achieve maximum balance and beauty. So what you eat is delicious and smart, both a discovery and a comfort. The plate must stimulate the utmost of every sense: visual, tactile, sound, olfactory, and thermal. When you reach the sum of your goals, you must finally add a good dose of self-criticism. For every recipe, the brain, heart, and stomach must all be involved in a sincere way.

Cooking can be seen as a form of storytelling. What stories do you aim to tell through your food, and how do you translate those narratives onto the plate?

It is not really the dishes that do the storytelling, but three thousand years of history that season them with a thousand spells. All society groups have contributed to the history of an island, a gastronomic continent, by making mistakes, creating, and building alternatives.

For young chefs looking to make a mark, what skills or experiences do you consider most critical for their development?

For our kitchen staff, the three cornerstones are self-denial, determination and loyalty. It’s also important to know how to respect each other. But when sacrifice is practised without a cultural background, it only makes you feel sorry for yourself. That is why, when asked which high school to send children to, I reply the high school specialised in humanities. And studies shall be alternated with summer kitchen jobs. If they last three years, then they could also choose to become a cook.

As an established chef, what legacy do you wish to leave in the culinary world, particularly in the context of Sicilian cuisine?

​​Today, after twenty-four years of experience and research, I am the Sicilian cuisine.

Learn more about Sicily’s best-loved chef Ciccio Sultano at

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