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Intervista a Ciccio Sultano

A new project sees you joining forces with Testa, a family of fishermen since 1800: different Mediterranean fishes preserved in oil and transformed into pasta condiments. How did this collaboration come about?

To be honest it came naturally. I have always selected great products made by people characterized by great humanity and professionalism. They are a family that has been working with the sea for at least 200 years. Our collaboration is about adding value. My role is like a guardian and advisor of taste, and I chip in with my organizational experience.

A project whose seeds were sown some time ago and brought to life now

First and foremost, we built the identity of Testa Conserve. One of my inspirations was an image by Marcello Dudovich, a painter and illustrator of the early 900s. The end result is a product of the Testa family’s participation; the work of Helvetika, a communications firm in Padua; and the talent od Giovanni Robustelli, a friend and Sicilian artist. Curves, warm and naval hues convey a sense of optimism and diligence.

What types of products will you produce and put on the market?

From red tuna to bogue, mackerel, horse mackerel, anchovies. In oil and salted. More items will follow.

We are talking about the sea’s biosustainability and quality of the end product: I’m sure the oil used to preserve the tuna is not to be wasted.

Definitely. Respect for the environment and controlled quota-based fishing are cornerstones for food and wellbeing. In addition, Testa Conserve uses both organic and Italian-grown extravirgin olive oil and cold pressed sunflower oil. The oil in the jars is not to be thrown away, but to be used to flavor dishes or to make emulsions.

How big will production be at the beginning?

We are quick to point out that it will not be mass production, but an artisan production of high quality. A virtuous production because it will complete the circle between fisherman, artisan and consumer. They will be limited editions of high value.

We often distinguish between A-list and B-list fish. This project will help that demonstrate that all types of fish, if fresh and good, are valid in their own right.

During the medieval times, the black truffle was only eaten by the poor, by the hungry. It was a leftover, for survival. It is the demand that raises the value of a good. Now, the distinction between A-list and B-list fish is determined by market demand, not the intrinsic value of the fish. The meat of a bogue or mackerel or horse mackerel is on par with that of a sea bass or tilapia. Raw mackerel is extraordinary!

How important is it to marry convenience – open a jar of ready made sauce or tuna – and quality in the 21st century?

Your question already has the answer: it is extremely important to offer something valid and fast.

What are your expectation three years from now?

To be present on the best shelves on the planet.

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Pippo Testa interview
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Nino Testa
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