#FOODMISSION 2024 – Francesco Calò, Via Toledo Enopizzeria, Wien, Austria

Chef Francesco Calò, a master pizza chef born in 1986 in Puglia, Italy, rose from a family of bakers to become a visionary in the culinary world. Founder of Via Toledo Enopizzeria. He revolutionized Neapolitan-style pizza, offering traditional favorites and innovative creations. His dedication and expertise have earned him international acclaim, establishing Via Toledo as a premier destination for pizza enthusiasts worldwide.

The Best Chef: You were born into a family of breadmakers, is that correct?

Francesco Calò: I indeed hail from a lineage of bakers in Puglia, specifically in the Basso Salento region. The tradition of baking has been passed down through generations, from my grandfather to my father, instilling in me a deep-rooted connection to the craft. Our pursuit of delivering top-notch quality spans over three decades, a legacy owed to my late grandfather and my father, who provided me with the opportunity to reach where I am today, albeit with sacrifices.

Growing up in a milieu saturated with flour sacks, baking became not just a profession but my passion. However, circumstances took a downturn in Puglia due to a misguided investment. Motivated by a fervent desire for redemption, I embarked on a journey that led me to Vienna in 2014. There, I immersed myself in various pizzerias, although my aspirations simmered beneath the surface, hindered by the setbacks endured in Puglia.

The Best Chef: So, how did you manage to turn things around?

Francesco Calò: I relentlessly pursued my vision, fervently submitting my project proposals. Yet, given my lack of collateral, securing support proved elusive. Undeterred, I persisted, eventually garnering approval from a Swiss bank in 2016. Thus, I commenced my venture with Via Toledo. Although the initial phase was arduous, gradually, we garnered acceptance and long-term patronage. I owe a debt of gratitude to those who believed in us, propelling us toward success and accolades, including recognition for our exceptional pizzas. Consequently, I ventured into crafting my signature flour blend, yearning to recreate the aromatic nostalgia of freshly baked bread, a sensation that evokes cherished memories spent with family.

The Best Chef: But where do the flours come from?

Francesco Calò: The flours are sourced from a mill in Reggio Emilia, with whom I’ve cultivated a longstanding partnership. Together, we endeavor to refine and enhance the quality of Italian flour, ensuring it embodies the essence of authenticity, wholly Made in Italy.

The Best Chef: How did you start here in Vienna?

Francesco Calò: Our foray into the Viennese market in 2016 coincided with a distinct set of preferences and customs. We introduced a novel concept of pairing pizzas with wines, a departure from the prevalent beer-centric offerings. Initially met with skepticism, we navigated through by offering a limited selection of beers, including Italian varieties, to accommodate local tastes while introducing them to our artisanal pizzas. This compromise proved instrumental in bridging the gap and fostering acceptance.

The Best Chef: You have created several projects like the one in Dubai, today we are in Vienna, can you tell us about your future plans?

Francesco Calò: I harbor a nascent project, one close to my heart, centered around a return to my roots. Eighteen years hence, I aspire to undertake a venture in Puglia, crafting offerings that resonate with the local populace, inviting them to savor and embrace our culinary creations firsthand.

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