The Chef of Licorice

Young and already a familiar face seen on national broadcasts: we’re talking about the Chef of Licorice.

They call her the Chef of Licorice: Danila Forciniti, a 32 year old from Rossano, a former cooking instructor at the “Accademia d’Arte Culinaria Cordon Bleu” in Florence where she graduated, always with a passion for cooking, licorice, and an innate gift for turning it into tasty and original dishes. Not forgetting her communicative nature: when she talks about cooking she is not inhibited, she rather likes it, especially when it comes to passing on the culinary arts (at the Academy of Florence she manages the Calabrian cooking course).  A guest several times on RAI 3 during the program Geo & Geo, conducted by Sveva Sagramola, and took the time while working as an executive Chef in Rende to graduate in Tourism Sciences at the University of Calabria.

“I have a strong taste for licorice,” she confesses. “I started using a little to play with i.e. minnows with anise of Amarelli. I liked the smell of melted licorice. Now I use the 100% pure powder from the Consortium of Licorice, and the roots.”

The first licorice dish?

Pancetta wrapped fennel with a salty cream licorice sauce. Fennel goes well with licorice because it tastes sweet.”

So young, and you’ve already had television experiences!

“It happened by chance. It was 2012 and I was at the Castle of Fredericiano of Roseto Capo Spulico to cook my licorice dishes for the troupe of the Mengacci program. They were looking for a chef who could propose original and creative dishes with licorice … so they called me.  After that I have been on Geo & Geo several times,” admitting she also received the title of “Chef of Licorice” by journalist Vito Verrastro of the magazine Origine and then humbly reveals that she participated in 2010 in the Top Show of rice of Verona.

“I was invited for the evening of rice and licorice … I was the first female chef of that event” she proudly confesses.

And now? How come you returned to Rossano?  You don’t prefer to make a career outside (of Calabria)?

I came back by choice, but actually I consider myself a chef with a suitcase, as I am often in Florence to continue with my cooking classes. I like to come home to restart from here and bring my reworked cuisine to the rest of Italy. Using products from Calabria, proposed in a creative mode. I like light recipes, low in fat, but tasty. The taste must be distinguishable!  I had several experiences as Executive Chef at various facilities, but now I am a freelance Chef because that way I can do more things that I like, such as organizing important events and devoting myself to cooking classes.  Here in Rossano I also teach courses for both adults and children with the Association Aris.”

So much determination!

“When you want something, you have to commit” she reveals very naturally, “you have to be very determined and obviously study!  You cannot improvise, especially in the kitchen where it is essential to know the basics.”

Do you have a strongest dish?  We are asking from seeing such determination and charisma.

“I like to cook everything and am passionate about finger foods, starters and desserts that are delicious!  And most importantly, I like to be very hands-on.  I need to be in control of everything with my hands! ”

And your most memorable plate?

“As a child I had a passion for cooking. I grew up in the family bakery: in summer I preferred to go to the bakery rather than to the sea! I was six when I started cooking. As soon as my mother walked away, I took advantage and experimented with her recipes. The recipe is linked to memories of my grandfather: his anise cookies.”

If you had to recommend to your peers a Calabrian recipe for success as a chef, what ingredients would you choose?

“Passion! The life of the chef is not easy, you spend many hours standing and when everyone is on holiday will work harder! You enter the kitchen at 9.30am and you stay if all goes well until two in the morning, when you get in the car and go home.”

And how is the life of a female Chef in Calabria?

When I started working as Executive Chef I was 20 and there were no other women in the kitchen. I still remember being welcomed then saying to myself it was like having entered into the barracks! There is still a lot of skepticism…

We are in the period of the Christmas holidays. What dish would you propose if were to cook for us?

“The dish I like to propose at Christmas is a Yule Log with a licorice biscuit, hazelnut cream and licorice meringue. They like it a lot both adults and children, and you can serve both cold and warm.”

Your plans for the new year?

“I’m writing a book of 120 to 150 recipes that I hope will be published soon.  At the moment I’m in contact with three publishers. The title however I have already chosen “Tra Valigie e Cucina” (between suitcase and kitchen), it represents me!  Then I’d like to open a cooking school: I like the contact with people. I always want to go amongst the diners to know what they think of my dishes. ”

Waiting to read her book, we can only extend our well wishes to Danila, a young talent from Calabria.  Meanwhile “Eccellenze Digitali” has selected two of her licorice dishes and they will soon be online on their personal website – regalo di un amico.  Those who wish to be in contact can do so on Facebook at https://goo.gl/qqRXXz.