A few years ago, Martina Caruso tasted the famous black-truffle ice cream at chef Ciccio Sultano’s Duomo, a two-Michelin-starred restaurant in Ragusa, a hilltop city in southeastern Sicily. At the time, in her 20s, Caruso was working in the kitchen at her family’s restaurant on the island of Salina, in the Aeolian archipelago off the northeastern Sicilian coast, but she did not wilt in the presence of the grand master of her region’s cuisine. Instead, as she recalled at a recent food festival on the JW Marriott’s private island in Venice, she asked herself: “Why can’t I make a really inventive and surprising ice-cream flavor?”
Now 29 years old, Caruso has already been named Italy Woman Chef of the Year by the 2019 Michelin guide. At 26, she became the youngest Italian to win a Michelin star for her cuisine at her family’s restaurant, which is located at the Hotel Signum, an upscale boutique hotel with panoramic views over Salina that has all the trappings—walking distance from a pebble beach, scented gardens, and a spa with thermal, healing waters that riffs on the ancient Greeks, former inhabitants of Salina—to become one of those resorts with a cult following around the world.