Pino Cuttaia Interview:
The Sicilian
La Madia

Love Italian Life Profile

Name: Pino Cuttaia
Place of birth: Licata, Sicily, Italy
Restaurant: Ristorante La Madia
Michelin-stars: two

Pino Cuttaia opened his restaurant La Madia in 2000 in Licata, Sicily where he got his first Michelin star in 2006 and the second in 2009. He was also awarded three “Forchette” from Gambero Rosso and three “cappelli” from L’Espresso Guide. His family’s history had brought him to the North of Italy, but after spending some time in several renowned kitchens there he returned to his native Sicily. His culinary skills focus on the warmth, passion, raw materials and recipes of his Sicilian childhood. His distinctive style is a fusion of reinventing memories which he transforms into perfect dishes celebrating seasons and symbols of the gastronomic history of his people. 

Pino Cuttaia and Ristorante La Madia were nominated for 3 award categories  at the Love Italian Life Awards 2018 Ceremony in Dublin:

1. The Best Contemporary Italian Restaurant in Sicily

2. The Best Contemporary Italian Restaurant in Italy

3. The Best Italian Chef in Europe 

Here is the exclusive interview between Love Italian Life and Pino:

Love Italian Life: What are the ingredients that make an Italian restaurant truly contemporary in the Italy of today?

Pino Cuttaia: Seasonal products are crucial because the relationship with seasonality constitutes how contemporary something is. Every Chef is on a journey that consists of research, exploration and ideas. Mine leads to where it all began: in my home’s kitchen. The reign of homemade taste, loving care and perfect imperfection. Because it’s there where ancient wisdom and beauty are found, almost unconsciously. In a job like that of the Chef, modernity is performed through culinary technique, with old and new tools, and the ability to reach people’s imagination. This is what we call the “wow effect” that tells how a chef can combine creativity with raw material and with the present.

Love Italian Life: What exactly inspired Pino Cuttaia to be passionate about food and become a chef?

Pino Cuttaia: I’m motivated by my will to communicate, I saw in the ingredients a means to effectively communicate. Any artisan can express himself with his own knowledge and raw ingredients.


Davide Dutto | Pizzaiola Codfish Smoked in Pinecone
Davide Dutto | Pizzaiola Codfish Smoked in Pinecone


“Every Chef is on a journey that consists of research, exploration and ideas”.


Love Italian Life: What is the secret of your success?

Pino Cuttaia: The job and the perseverance. I always cook in order to help make others happy and I respect the environment in which I live.


“The table is a feeling. Experience is something personal and difficult to tell. It is like a movie”.


Love Italian Life: What do you think it is about Italian food that has such an enduring appeal?

Pino Cuttaia: Behind Italian cuisine there are so many micro-producers that make Italy an unlimited territory of knowledge. The cook is the interpreter of the values that every artisan faces in their own work. 

Arancina di riso con ragù di triglia
Davide Dutto | Arancina di riso con ragù di triglia

Love Italian Life: In your opinion what are the store-cupboard essentials that all great Italian chefs should make sure they have in their kitchen?

Pino Cuttaia:  Oil and salt. The oil represents the first connection with the ingredient. The taste is exalted by the oil, everything starts by using it at the beginning. The salt creates the balance, the salivation and function of flavouring. 

Love Italian Life: What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of coming into the industry as a chef? 

Pino Cuttaia: I will say to him to make sure he grows up appreciating the ingredients and to not be too hasty or impatient. He’s not a sportsman, he has to grow up and travel. As a young man he has to know the job, when he will grow up he will talk about this.  

Love Italian Life: For anyone who hasn’t eaten in Ristorante La Madia before, how would you sum up the dining experience?

Pino Cuttaia: The table is a feeling. Experience is something personal and difficult to tell. It is like a movie, I can set the scene but not the emotion. In my restaurant I educate you about the dishes not the emotion because that belongs to the guests. Everyone has his own interpretation. We try to make the guests feel at home, to free them from any tension and to make them fully embrace the experience.

Pino Cuttaia Video Gallery