Chilli Pepper As I See It - Giuseppe Salvatore Paladino, Chilli Chef

date:2020-04-29 views:5915

Our Chilli Chef, Giuseppe Salvatore Paladino, told us about his relationship with chilli pepper and his basic knowledge about food pairings with our beloved spice.


When you think about chilli, the first images that appear in our mind send us back to the highlands of the Andes, to China or to Calabria, a region in Southern Italy.

In reality, its rusticity allows optimal growth throughout many countries.

Growing chilli pepper is quite simple, this is one of the reasons that have allowed its spread worldwide. One of the main characteristics of chilli pepper is its adaptability. In the kitchen it can be used both fresh and dried or in powder to flavor sauces, dressings and meats, fish, cheeses and Calabrian salami. In some cases, not only a flavoring can be applied, but as the most important ingredient. Over the centuries it has become one of the main condiments of Mediterranean cuisine, especially in the regions of Southern Italy where this spice has become the main ingredient of several typical regional products. Calabria stands out among these. Here chilli pepper is a real cult, it is used to flavour typical sausages, including "Nduja, a spreadable cold cut made with pork meat and fat and a lot of chilli powder of course. Chilli is not only used to give the dish a spicy touch but also to boost sensory qualities of the food without covering the flavor of other ingredients, when it is used in the correct way. Actually, it is more correct to talk about chillies, in its plural form, since each of the five cultivated species has a panel of different aromatic notes. These aromatic notes are also accentuated among different varieties of the same cultivar. In general, from the taste-olfactory point of view, chillies can be divided into the five most commercially used species: Capsicum annuum, Capsicum frutescens, Capsicum chinense, Capsicum baccatum and Capsicum pubescens. The varieties included in the Capsicum annuum species are characterized by an almost instantaneous perception of hotness just as you start to chew it. The hot sensation attacks and immediately envelops the entire oral cavity, it turns out to be pungent, while the perception time is limited. The aroma and aftertaste are characterized by fruity notes, and typical of this species is the note of sweet pepper. Similar aromatic notes are present in Capsicum baccatumeven if the spiciness is less aggressive. While Capsicum pubescens gives a characteristic fruity note. The species cannot be pollinated with the others and the seeds are generally black. As regards the Capsicum chinense which includes the very famous Habanero, Trinidad Scorpions, Jolokia, Carolina Reaper, Scotch Bonnet, the aromatic component plays an important role. Habanero has vanilla and apricot note and the aroma can be very pronounced, it pairs very well with chocolate, whilst its pairing with cold drinks is undergoing continued research and development. This is an important topic for food lovers and gastronomes, because nothing better than a good glass of wine or beer can increase the pleasures of tasting food.

Many sommeliers believe that the right pairing between wine and chilli is really difficult, because of the overwhelming sensations brought about by capsaicin that would risk to completely cover the aromas of the wine. New experiments are aimed at enhancing the sensorial characteristics of chilli pepper in order to cancel prejudices against this spice, and even to explore new flavors. In order to combine a wine with a spicy dish, one must apply the general food-wine pairing techniques and be aware of the aromatic characteristics of the chilli pepper used to flavour dishes. So choose the right chilli to put in a dish that already requires specific culinary skills to be prepared and match it with a good glass of wine is a really difficult job because, without having the proper knowledge on the topic, you would risk not to be able to pair the right wine to enhance the flavour of chilli and join a unique and unforgettable sensory experience.


What is the current situation of chilli pepper production in Italy?

I believe that, despite the high consumption of chilli in Italy, this spice has never become a star of Italian agrisystem production. Given the huge internal demand, in fact, cultivating the spicy vegetable could turn into an interesting  income opportunity for many farmers.
In Italy there is no doubt that chilli pepper is very popular (especially in the Southern regions) and, in fact, about 700.000 quintals are consumed per year; of these, more than 50% is imported from Asia. My region of origin, Calabria presenting all the climatic characteristics to grow chilli. It would be perfect and perfectly suited to become a heaven land of chillies, in order to satisfy the domestic demand and give us the opportunity of export high quality products all over the world. The main problem lies in the process of enhancing and protecting the product which still has a long way to go and which, at present, does not encourage production. In my opinion there is only one solution and it is the reduction of the high production costs, the development of mechanical harvesting and the introduction of higher quality standards that can give value to local production.


What does chilli mean for you?

For me it means everything. Since I was a child I have always been fascinated by this culture and during my youth my curiosity led me to study deep the capsicum at 360 degrees. In the end, from this great passion I created my own work. And to be honest I am really happy of that because when you do what you really love it seems that you are not working at all.  A great dream of when I was a child became reality and thanks to my scientific studies I created new food products and new languages of taste with chilli that did not exist before. Among these, a note of merit must certainly be given to PEPPER-ONE ® , the first soft leavened product in the world made with artisan candied chilli peppers developed with a special technique developed by Antonio Montalto. But I also matched many dishes of haute cuisine with different cultivars of chillies. A great moment was joining as member of the World Chilli Alliance the 4th International Chili Expo held in Zunyi (Guizhou Province, China) where I had the opportunity to present some spicy dishes together with Emanuela Crescenzi.



Giuseppe Salvatore Paladino is a Gastronomist from Calabria, a cook, consultant, a great lover of chilli peppers and creator of new food products. He is currently a lecturer in the role of “Laboratory for foodservice: culinary arts” at the IIS “A.Motti” of Reggio Emilia and a lecturer  of “Laboratory, technique and management for foodservice” at the University of Parma – Master COMET. His great passion has accompanied him since the first years of his life, when his grandfather Giuseppe transferred to him the love for the chilli pepper and for cooking through the flavors and smells of the dishes that he prepared daily.  He is the founder and owner of the company Peperoncineria Paladino LTD and the creator of the Pepper-ONE® brand products and of the Peperoncineria ® line of sauces.


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