Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Cooking with Sicilian Roots

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Cooking with Sicilian Roots

Article excerpt

Ortygia (1418 13th St. W., Bradenton. 741-8646; in Bradenton's Village of the Arts is the pride of chef Gaetano "Guy" Cannata, who is lauded for his Sicilian, Mediterranean and French fusion-style cuisine. He has been a culinary wiz since his teenage years and is committed to preserving the authenticity of the European fare that has been in his family for generations.

Q:You began cooking during childhood. How did being in the kitchen move you?

A:I started working in kitchens when I was 14 years old, as I've always had a fascination with food and cooking. My father was a Sicilian-born chef. My mother learned all of her fantastic cooking techniques from him and also from her mother who was from the Abruzzi region of Italy. Food was always the major topic of conversation in my home: where to buy it, how fresh it was and how to prepare it. I've also trained and cooked with various European chefs over the years from Spain, France, Italy and elsewhere. The knowledge I gained from them was indispensable, but my love of food and cuisine, as well as the deep respect that I have for food, was a gift given to me by my parents.

Q:How do you keep your menu fresh and stimulating for both you and your guests?

A:We always start out the season with something new. This year, we will be starting our new revolving wine menu. Tuesday pasta night was such a big hit last year that we will be bringing it back this season, featuring three completely original pasta dishes every week. Live weekly entertainment will be featured, and also new this year on Wednesday evenings is "Aperitivo!" It's hot and exclusively at Ortygia.

Q:What was the most memorable compliment you ever received from a patron?

A:One evening, when I was first starting out, a group of middle- aged men and women (all six dressed in black) came in for dinner. After multiple courses, I asked them how everything was. They all stood up and applauded. It seems that they were all retired restaurateurs from Federal Hill in Rhode Island, where some of the best Italian restaurants in the country can be found. They were on the last leg of a two-week trip and said they were completely disappointed with the food in the area until they ate at my place. …

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