Saturday, November 14, 2015

Momenti with the Maestro - Pastry Chef Alfonso Pepe and his Panettone, Sant' Egidio Del Monte Albino (Sa)

Maesto Alfonso Pepe

So there I was, one Saturday morning in St Egidio Del Monte Albino having a coffee while googling the pastries at Pepe Pasticceria. Several months have passed since I met Maestro Pastry Chef Alfonso Pepe for the first time during a charity  dinner  at pizzeria,. That evening I had the chance to speak with the chef as he awaited his turn to present his delicious highly sought after desserts.  It was back then, over a slice of pizza, that I asked Pepe if I could swing by his place if I was ever in his neck of the words.  Certo! Of course, was his reply.

So to assume I was patiently awaiting to be escorted to Pepe who was in his laboratory preparing panettone wouldn't be exactly true.  Goosebumps and butterflies in my stomach would pretty much describe the scene.  Plus, the Maestro was preparing panettone!!   The traditional Christmas cake that has put his on the podium as being the best in Italy back in 2014.

Quite a bit going on as I reached the downstairs laboratory.  A quick smile from Pepe and a joke or two as he asked me if I wanted a bite to eat.  the maestro never stopped moving.  He and his assistants had a lot to do to prepare the countless orders that flow into the pastry shops on a daily basis.  I had the privilege of watching Pepe prepare a couple of versions of panettone - one with limoncello cream, and a traditional one with candied fruits.  I had the privilege of tasting one of his newest creations - one prepared with whole wheat flower and wild berries.

Preparing a panettone is tough work which requires experience, concentration, quality products, and time.  Something that many do not try to attempt at home.  (Details can be found here.)

I'm not a baker by any means, but that didn't keep me from getting caught up in the rhythm in the pastry shop that morning.  Panettone dough from the mixer to the stainless steel table.  From the table to the scale.  From the scale to the experienced and caring hands of Maestro Pepe as he formed them into perfectly shaped circles, then carefully placed them into paper molds where they would rest and rise.

A few more bites of that panettone that was offered earlier, a wave and a smile, I left Maestro Pepe just as I had found him.  Hard at work, whipping out those panettone, with the occasional joke or two.

Come back in a couple of weeks.  I'll be working on my chocolate panettone, he said as I headed up the stairs.

Did someone say chocolate?
A presto, Maestro!  :-) 

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