U.S.-based Chef Accursio Lota Wins Pasta World Championship in Parma, Italy

Chef Accursio Lota Wins Pasta World Championship in Parma, Italy

Parma, Italy — Accursio Lotà, chef at Solara restaurant in San Diego, Calif., is this year’s winner of the Barilla Pasta World Championship — held in Parma, Italy in late September. The final of the sixth annual competition was held at Academia Barilla, the international centre created by Barilla to spread awareness of Italy’s gastronomic culture worldwide.

Lotà, a native of Italy, won the two-day competition by beating out 19 competitors from 15 countries (including Canada, who was represented by Joey Restaurants’ chef Connor Gabbott) and four continents with his “Seafood Carbonara” — an homage to the most celebrated and discussed pasta recipe.

Lotà’s winning dish was a unique take on the traditional Italian recipe featuring an explosion of baroque flavours and tastes of Sicily. The 32-year old chef took the Carbonara concept, and substituted the chicken eggs typically used in the recipe with seafood eggs. He then used green mandarins and red mazara shrimps — classic ingredients from Sicily — giving the dish a Mediterranean flavour. As part of the dish, chef Lotà cooked seafood, scallops, red shrimps from Mazara del Vallo, cuttlefish and amberjack filet at a low temperature in guanciale fat, to resemble the rich meatiness of pasta Carbonara, without using eggs and dairy.

Lotà, whose win was announced to thunderous applause from the audience said, “This success means a lot for me. It was so exciting to be chosen amongst the three finalists, and actually winning has been amazing.” His dish is reflective of Lotà’s vision of the future of pasta. “I work abroad, but due to my Italian roots, pasta is already perfect in its simplicity. This is why the future of pasta, in my opinion, will be realized not only by reinventing pasta according to oneself, but by regenerating and reworking the classic accompaniments and sauces in new ways. This doesn’t mean destroying our traditions, but it means to rethink and reimagine both ingredients and techniques.”

Lotà’s culinary journey began after his graduation when he was given the opportunity to work at the Four Seasons in Milan with Sergio Mei. At the age of 22 he moved to California where he had the opportunity to serve a meal to President Obama. After returning to Italy for a short time, he returned to California where, today, he helms the kitchen at the Solare restaurant in San Diego. In this position, he has been selected best chef in the city for the past three consecutive years.

For Barilla, the 140-year pasta company founded in Parma — the heartland of Italy — the Pasta World Championship is an opportunity to promote the popularity of pasta. According to Paolo Barilla, vice-chairman of the Barilla Group, “The Barilla Pasta World Championship is now at its sixth edition and has once again proven how important it is for promoting Italy’s gastronomic culture — the linchpin of which is pasta. The championship rewards those that take our real cuisine abroad, and was created to celebrate pasta and showcase its versatility; its ability to adapt to cultures and societies that differ greatly from one another, without losing its identity. In fact, pasta brings people together: it binds them and encompasses tradition and innovation alike.”

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Rosanna Caira is the editor and publisher of Kostuch Media’s Foodservice and Hospitality, and Hotelier magazines. In her capacity as editor of Canada’s two leading hospitality publications, Rosanna directs the editorial and graphic content of both publications, and is responsible for the editorial vision of the magazines, its five websites as well as the varied tertiary products including e-newsletters, supplements and special projects. In addition to her editorial duties, Rosanna also serves as publisher of the company, directing the strategic development of the Sales and Marketing, Production and Circulation departments. Rosanna is the face of the magazines, representing the publications at industry functions and speaking engagements. She serves on various committees and Boards, including the Board of Directors of the Canadian Hospitality Foundation. She is a recipient of the Ontario Hostelry’s Gold Award in the media category. In 2006, Rosanna was voted one of the 32 most successful women of Italian heritage in Canada. Rosanna is a graduate of Toronto’s York University, where she obtained a BA degree in English literature.

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