Of the many food gifts that Carla and Alberto brought on their visit (lucky me!), the one most tempting tonight is the bag of Sebaste Tenerelli: soft hazelnut nougat. Made simply with hazelnuts (42%), sugar, honey, glucose syrup, potato starch, egg whites and ‘aromi’, these little bites are a fabulous reminder of the ‘Tonda Gentile delle Langhe’, Piemonte’s – and Italy’s – most prized variety of hazelnut.
According to the Consorzio Tutela Nocciola Piemonte’s website, though they produce less than 10% of the country’s production, the Piemontese are serious about their hazelnuts, declaring those in the Cuneo region to have IGP (Indicazione Geographica Protetta) status.
Sebaste, like many family-owned businesses, has been making their nougat since 1885. Their website describes the history of the company, indicating that while modernization in production has occurred over the years, the original recipe has remained more or less the same for four generations.
How do these family business models work? While I can’t trace my family back four generations, I doubt that I’d have found shoemaking, my grandfather’s trade, one that I would wish to pursue … but then again, immigrant shoemakers weren’t exactly creating empires.