Expat Entrepreneurs: Sesamo Brings A Sicilian Artisanal Touch To Brno’s Gastro Scene
Melis Karabulut’s series profiles some of Brno’s foreign entrepreneurs to explore the challenges of running a business in a foreign country. This week, she speaks to the guys behind Sesamo, Kralovo Pole’s artisanal Sicilian bakery. Credit: Rosario Colletti.
Southerners are picky and protective of their food, which is much more than just a tool to address the need of hunger. I know that as a Southerner myself. Especially when we are talking about the food of our nation’s origin, we are talking about care, love, passion, and commitment. We are talking about attention to detail in its preparation that others would simply not understand.
That’s why I understood what Piero Barone, the head chef of Sesamo, meant when he said “I come to the bakery at 2am to prepare the bread dough, so it will be ready for the customers by 8am, in the best texture possible.” He was verbalizing his way of feeling proud of the generations-old care taken in artisanal food. The genuine Southernness of Sesamo captured me at first glance when they welcomed me with a smile, a cream-filled croissant and a cup of warm cappuccino.
The bakery and coffee shop is run by Rosario Colletti, previously a software engineer and world traveler, who arrived in the Czech Republic ten years ago. He lived for periods in Prague and Brno, and finally settled in Brno to start the journey of bringing Sicilian culinary traditions to a city which had a need for them.
Piero Barone is accompanying Rosario as the main craftsman of Sesamo. A Czech restaurant-owner who tasted Piero’s food convinced the chef to move to Prague and work for him. Although Piero struggled a lot to adapt to life in the Czech Republic, he focused on his work and gained fame as a successful chef, and won the Best Baker in the Czech Republic Award seven times! With more than 30 years of cooking and baking experience in Sicily and Prague, and now in Brno, his experience, passion, talent and keen eye for detail speak through his croissants, breads, cakes and pizzas. He calls his products “the food of sweat and heart”.
Rosario and Piero crossed paths in Prague, when Piero was working for another Italian restaurant, yet wanted a change. They embarked on this adventure together in March 2020, exactly one week before the pandemic broke out, obviously without any idea what was coming. Their aim was to bring authentic Sicilian food to Brno, which was missing in the city. Because their products come with a solid quality, they were able to attract the Italian community in Brno along with other foreigners and Czechs, holding onto their business and avoiding the destructive impact of the pandemic. They are located right at the Technology Park, so as the pandemic restrictions were eased gradually, they could attract more and more customers as workers returned to their offices. Their business also attracted customers specifically for the fact that Piero was bringing the unique delicacies of Sicily to Brno, just as he had to Prague years ago.
I asked Rosario whether it was difficult to meet the Italian standards of ingredients in a Central European city like Brno, and he told me that the majority of their ingredients are imported from Italy. “I wish that we could find local alternatives to the ingredients that we use, but we want to keep the products as genuine as possible,” he stressed. “Actually, Italian cuisine is very simple, you need no more than three or four ingredients. And those few ingredients have to have the quality. The recipe won’t work if we don’t import things that make the recipe ‘the recipe’. Also we need to be constantly delivering the same quality of product, so we have to make sure that the ingredients come from the origin. Also, people in the Czech Republic now prefer quality over quantity.” Rosario also told me that Piero’s secret in making the customers keep coming back is his light recipes, be it the pizzas or the cakes and desserts. He cares about making easy-to-digest products with a fresh flavor.
The legacy product of Sesamo is the famous Cannoli, a crispy ricotta-filled roll with pistachio crumbs on it. Sesamo is also recognized for its pizzas, as the dough is prepared according to a special recipe perfected by Piero over the course of his career as a chef.
Rosario expands on Sesamo’s place in Brno’s gastronomy sector. Since they are already importing key ingredients for their food, they also offer Italian wines, olive oil, pastas and other products that can be purchased at the premises. The breads of Sesamo can also be purchased at La Formaggeria Gran Morava branches in Zelny Trh, Kralovo Pole and Campus Square; and their pizzas and breads are available on DameJidlo and Wolt. At the same time, Rosario invites customers to taste the products where they are prepared. “Most customers don’t know that the delivery companies take a considerable proportion of the profit from the restaurants. Being supported by customer visits once in a while is more profitable for us, and it gives the customer the experience of eating out at a real Italian place,” he explains. He adds that many customers complain about Sesamo not being located in the city center, but he encourages them to discover some other parts of the city as well. “A step out of Česka is another city for foreigners!” he says, highlighting the easy accessibility of Sesamo, exactly 11 minutes from Česka on tram number 12.
Both Rosario and Piero also mention how much they enjoy their Aperitivo events, mostly organized when the weather gets warmer. At these events, customers pay for their Aperol drinks, while a huge variety of appetizers are offered for free. They put the tables outside, and the children play in the garden while the adults enjoy the warmth of the Italian atmosphere in a laid-back environment. They also organize baking sessions with children, and cooking and baking for special days such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and more.
Visitors can enjoy the delicious food of Sesamo at Purkyňova 97, Brno-Královo Pole.