Who is Celestino Drago, the most loved Sicilian chef in Hollywood
In the States it is considered among the best. His dishes tell of Sicily, his restaurants are frequented by Hollywood celebrities and politicians. Let’s talk about Celestine Drago, Sicilian chef aged 65, more than forty of which spent in America. He didn’t know it would be like this when he left. Yet, in California he has conquered the most famous palates, redeeming dish after dish Mediterranean cuisine in the world.
Today the Drago family in Los Angeles has 13 successful restaurants, manages the catering of the Peterson Automotive Museum. There is a Drago Bakery and a Drago Farm, where the products used in restaurants are grown naturally. And soon they will also open in Dubai. A story of passion, recklessness and Mediterranean scents that tells the rise of Celestino Drago in LA
Who is the chef Celestino Drago
Celestino was born in Galatians Mamertinea small town in the Nebrodi in Province of Messina. He was a boy when he moved to Tuscany, where he learned the trade in the Pisan chef Ignazio Diana’s brigade. Arrived there to work in the factory, he gives up a sure opportunity to stay in the kitchen and pursue his true passion.
In ’79 Celestino flies to The Angels and arrives at Orlando Orsini, a well-known chef appreciated by celebrities. But his gym ends in ’85 when Drago opens his own first restauranta Beverly Hillswhere does the successful takeover in catering. He tells in an interview with Southern Gazette: “For the Americans l’italian cuisine it was only that of Northern and Central Italy. A legacy, because they identified our cuisine (that of the South, Mediterranean) with that of the first Sicilian immigrants, often improvised chefs who served truly preposterous dishes”.
The Dragon Resturant in Santa Monica
The challenge for Celestino is exciting. He wants to dispel the prejudices on Mediterranean cuisine abroadso much so that in his second restaurant the chef dedicates part of the menu to Sicilian cuisine. Sardines, oily fish, bottarga, aubergines and other Mediterranean foods enter the dishes, perfectly marrying the Californian healthy lifestyle.
Inspired by the best traditional Sicilian dishes, the revolution of taste and image brought to the table by the chef soon guarantees him great fame. “I included six Sicilian dishes – says Drago in the interview – six specialties and I must say it was a success. At that point I became a Sicilian chef and this with great pride”.
The other openings soon arrive and little by little Celestino’s brothers join him in America. First Calogero moves, then Tanino, Giacomo and lastly the youngest of the family, Carolina with her husband Armando. It is thanks to their great support and hard work, says the chef, that the business has been able to grow so much, becoming one of the best culinary realities in California.
The Foundation Celestine Drago commissioned by the chef’s family, it was inaugurated a few years ago in Sicily, precisely in Galati Mamertino, Celestino’s country of origin. A project born for the purpose of guarantee and protect the island’s culinary tradition to which Celestino Drago is so attached.
From the interview to Journal: “I think it is right to preserve the food culture that this country (Galati) has – he explains. The Foundation can do many things but it cannot do them alone. We need the collaboration of everyone, institutions, citizens, businesses. I am the means to connect the past with the future. We have to do things that make us feel good.”
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