“How can you live without ever visiting Palermo” That’s what Kundera wrote in his book, “The Unbearable Lightness of Being”, you can’t. 

Palermo is history, art, science and hospitality. It thoroughly deserved the title, “Capital of Culture 2018.” Those who have had the pleasure of visiting the city, would agree. Those who have had the honour of being born there would be even prouder. 

Like Rita Busalacchi, Pastry Chef class of 84, born in Palermo and after having travelled and studied across the world, Rita returned to her home city. A determined, volcanic, curious and impressionable woman, she inherited her love for pastry from her great-grandmother. 

Illustration Indre Vaiciukaite

Her story is of course, interesting. She studied the classics in college and yet went on to get a degree in chemistry and pharmaceutical technologies; this is all determined by the fact that Rita wanted to find a scientific explanation in everything she does and sees. 

At 19 years old she bought her first cookbook, “Pasticceria evoluzione e tradizione secondo l’Etoile” by Stefano Laghi, someone who has since become a friend. She never lost her passion for cake making, and this book made her fall in love with this world made up of colours, smells, tastes and it allowed her to understand how a cake could be a “work of art” all by itself.

Rita Busalacchi

For personal satisfaction, Rita goes on to collect her degree and becomes a chemical engineer. Throughout however, she is aware that chemistry rules in the high end world of cake making and thus takes the decision to sign up to a course at Boscolo Etoile, there she meets the master, Luca Montersino and soon becomes an apprentice and collaborator. 

Destructured Cassata Siciliana
The ACE Cake: Acqua, Arancia, Carota e Limone
Delizia Almond, Strawberry and White Chocolate

Rita confesses that she believes in destiny and is certain that she has found herself in the right place at the right time and that chemistry has given her a head start. Going to the academy she quickly understands that many of the recipes given to the students were incomplete and so, as any good, enterprising Sicilian would do, she asks her teacher, Montersino, to help her develop her skills outside of the teaching environment. This was new. It was exciting and scary that a teacher would also be a collaborator. 

It was the right call. Rita leaves the school environment and goes to work for Montersino on a full time basis. 3 years later, Rita takes another leap, deciding that she needed a new challenge and motivation. January 1st, 2015, whilst at dinner, Rita confesses that she wanted to go and study in a French pastry laboratory. Returning to the island of Alba, she learns French in three months thanks to another great teacher, Francesca.