Today we interview Alex Ziccarelli, born in Cosenza but Neapolitan by adoption, Alessandro and Alex in his family since he decided to leave Italy for Canada 28 years ago.
*Who is Alex Ziccarelli?
I always answer this question by saying that I love Italian cuisine above all else, especially traditional food, but I don’t hate new culinary trends. And I love to write.
I’m 62 years old, even though most people say they don’t see me. I was born in Cosenza, but Naples is a fundamental stage in my life. There I was studying medicine, but a tragic family event, the sudden loss of my father, changed the entire course of my existence.
I love reading and discovering new places to have dinner with friends. I follow football a lot but can’t watch it all the time.
I’m not, but today I’m more sedentary than I used to be, because I still work somewhat in the kitchen, and this commitment to weekly physical activity is already enough.
I am married to Carmen, a wonderful person whom I love, and we have a wonderful daughter, Isabella.
*What do you fondly remember about your youth in Italy and your time living in our country?
Of course first my whole family, parents and siblings and my mother who is still alive and my maternal grandparents, Alessandro and Emilia will always be in my memories. You can say every day, my dear schoolmates, that I still hear today. A special note to my brother friend Emilio, whom I miss every day, considering the distance that separates us. And then there’s Naples, a city I’ve lived in for a long time and I’ll be going back there tomorrow. Here also a special note to my dear friend Renato and all his family, but also to the friends I met there and whom I hear from time to time, Cecio, Angelo, Pino and Gerardo, formerly known as Gino, Vincenzo, Angelo, Pino and Gerardo.
*How did you become a famous chef?
I think I’m a chef, I’ve always been uninterested, it started by accident, after my father’s death, I had the opportunity to take a cooking class, along with a friend, and that was the beginning. My future business. Famous I don’t know, maybe…everything, however, comes from the passion, dedication and tenacity and persistence I put into everything I love.
*Which chef has influenced you the most?
I can’t mention specific names here, I have to mention many, first of all, suffice it to say that my mother and grandmother are great cooks, but above all my stay in Naples taught me everything I never could. Something I learned in my subsequent culinary studies.
* Why choose immigration?
For me, migration is not a choice, but a necessity. Moving abroad is a logical consequence of a desire to turn the page after a hectic work and personal hiatus.
*How are you in Canada? –
I think proudly. Leaving aside for a moment the love of my country, of my family, of my friends, of the city of my birth, and of Naples, I can surely answer that I would have done better if I had come and lived there before. .
*How is Italian cuisine received in Canada?
I would say well. More today than yesterday. The contributions that Italy and Italian workers have made to this country are incalculable, not just in the kitchen, but in every field, one for all the construction industry.
*Which Italian foods do Canadians love?
Undoubtedly traditional, familiar dishes, grandmother’s dishes, but for some time there is a trend to know the contemporary, after all, today people travel a lot, so there is an opportunity to know and try new ones. things.
*Briefly describe your typical day and your work environment.
My day always starts with watching the news online and then I go to the restaurant where I am lucky enough to work in a beautiful environment. However, for some time now I have been restricting my presence in restaurants and devoting myself more to writing or learning new facts in the culinary field.
*Which food do you like to eat? And what do you like to cook?
Undoubtedly a traditional dish, not particularly one of the Neapolitan cuisine, for example, a plate of pasta with meat sauce, Genoese or cialatielli with seafood. I’m not averse to some Calabrian, Apulian and Lucan cuisine either. Then how can we forget Sicily and Rome? I have to say that some dishes from Northern Italy are also my favourites. As you can imagine, it’s difficult to create a collection of culinary options across all Italian cuisines. Anyway, I personally like to cook fish dishes.
*Who cooks in your house?
I always cook when I’m there, Carmen, sometimes when I come back tired, especially after a party, doesn’t do badly, good blood doesn’t lie, in fact, my mother is a great cook.
*What is your favorite thing about Canada?
In this country we call each other by name, not surname. The bureaucracy is much more streamlined than in Italy, after all, merit is the basis of every profession, it doesn’t matter who you are, whose son or whatever, but you know what your worth is and how to do it. Regardless of age.
*Tell us about the Italian community in Canada and more specifically about Toronto where you live.
Italians today are fully integrated into the local social fabric, both politically and financially, but also industrially and commercially. There are Italian programs in schools up to university, local cooking schools linked to Italian, Italian-language newspapers, television and radio broadcasts, and later in Toronto and Montreal, more than any other Canadian city, the presence and work of Italian construction companies was and is still enormous, the exchange and import of Italian products. Not to mention, they are now everywhere and are common in other communities’ choices as well.
*Would you advise a national to immigrate to Canada? If yes, where, what job opportunities and in what fields?
Firstly, immigration here is regulated and it is not that easy to migrate even if you have some requirements and none at all. After all, skilled workers are needed in all fields, such as construction, chefs, and pizza chefs. Above all, the willingness to tirelessly engage in the first difficulties is important, even more fundamental, anyway, in knowing or studying the English language. Canada is undoubtedly one of the best places to build a future.
Thinking of returning to Italy one day?
I don’t think so, now my life, my family and my work are here. Of course I still have important affections in Italy and hope to one day spend a few months a year on vacation, but, at this point, the places where I was born and the places where I lived and the people are not going back. The people I attended and whom I love will always be in my heart and thoughts.
“Total coffee junkie. Tv ninja. Unapologetic problem solver. Beer expert.”