In the pastry shop La Siciliana since 1956 in via Teodosio 85, a lively area not far from piazzale Loreto, there is a frenetic bustle. The tables outside are all occupied and there is a line of customers waiting for a seat to become available; inside it is less requested but in the end many settle in the air-conditioned room, at least so they can enjoy a granita or a cannolo, among the many specialties of the house.
For a few days now, right in front of the front door, he has the place of honor on the counter, “the” panettone, the one who won Panettone Day, a national competition. Final disputed on Tuesday, noble seat, Cracco in Galleria, noble jury, with big players like Cracco himself, Iginio Massari, Marco Pedron. And the great satisfaction of bringing back to Milan the center of gravity of panettone, which in recent years fluctuated a little too much: paradoxically, the Milanese artisans / artists had been excluded from the podium of almost all the events dedicated to the Milanese dessert par excellence.
We needed a Sicilian. Alessio Rannisi and his brothers, Paolo and Emanuele, certainly have Sicily in their blood and roots, but they are also very Milanese. They showed a great desire to do, tireless tenacity in pursuing a dream, enough capacity to succeed. So now there it is, the panettone of wonders, complete with a transparent plate that sanctions the victory; and who has given Milan back the primacy of one of his creations and the Rannisi an extraordinary visibility. And that’s just the beginning.
“Yes, since I won we have already sold some panettone even though it is September. My mother, on the other hand, has always cut some of them into slices as soon as we start baking them and offers them to customers”. His father Salvatore had been in Milan since the 1980s, the family moved permanently in 1999, “on 1 August, I will never forget: while many Milanese went to Sicily on vacation, we landed here, in a semi-deserted city”, remember. “My father worked in the automobile sector, then with a Sicilian friend, an” old style “pastry chef, he opened the pastry shop in 2005. They named it as a tribute to our mother, Jolanda, who was born in 1956”.
But how did Alessio’s passion for this profession, born in 1987, start? “I am an IT expert, and I saw that in that area my imagination was unable to express itself. So I began to support others in the family business and to propose to refine the recipes a little, to make them in a more contemporary way . When one of my colleagues left in 2011, I decided to jump in and try my hand at leavened products, a very difficult field “. Working in a shop specializing in cassata and cannoli, what was the charm of panettone?
“The difficulty. It was a bet, a challenge, I wanted to make this magnificent dessert to the fullest, I didn’t want to use any kind of semi-finished product but to do it only with mother yeast and with carefully selected ingredients. I studied a lot, because, curiously, in the end also in the pastry shop it’s a bit like in computer science, there are rules, patterns to be respected. My mentor Silvo Pala helped me a lot, he gave me a specific course and then, over the years, he always gave me advice and encouragement ” . And we are in 2018.
“Yes, at Christmas 2018 I produced my first panettone. I was satisfied. Exactly one year later, while customers were asking for more and more my panettone, I took a tour of the Rinascente, on the seventh floor, where there is a choice of food. ‘elite, and I saw the panettone that had won Panettone Day: at that moment I decided that soon mine would be on those shelves “. Goal achieved, bet won. How did he do?
“I worked a lot. But the perfect formula, I must tell you, was born first on paper. I took some sample recipes, others that I liked for some reason, I studied them, I did some equations and in the end I created my own formula. Then I started experimenting, and now here we are. ” Someone calls: “Hey, you have to get off!”. Mamma Jolanda, very happy with the result, is downstairs in the laboratory, getting busy. Paolo rushes between the tables and the cash desk, Emanuele is behind the counter. Work presses. From October, the Rannisi panettone can also be purchased in the temporary store in Corso Garibaldi and, of course, in the Rinascente. “We were told about huge quantities, 8 or 9 thousand pieces, We made 350, then we gradually passed to 1,200. But now these are crazy numbers”. Will he make it? “Sure. I have to!”.