New generation of Italian-Montrealers remake traditions

CBC Daybreak takes its show to Café Milano in St-Léonard, the heart of Montreal's Italian community. Here's what three Italian-Montrealers are doing to remake old traditions for a new generation.

CBC Daybreak live in St Léonard at Café Milano, taking a look at Montreal's Italian community, circa 2016

Danny Smiles is head chef and co-owner Le Bremner restaurant in Old Montreal. (Submitted by: Danny Smiles)

CBC Daybreak took its show to Café Milano in St-Léonard, the heart of Montreal's Italian community.  

Here's what three Italian-Montrealers are doing to remake old traditions for a new generation.

Old-school cooking

Danny ''Smiles'' Francis is a lover of old-school Italian cooking

He is head chef and co-owner Le Bremner restaurant in Old Montreal.

Danny grew up speaking Italian and cooking Italian-style at home with his parents and grandparents in the Montreal borough of Anjou. 

He never expected to cook professionally.

In fact, his parents did not want him to become a chef. They were hoping for a lawyer.

But once Danny decided to embark on that course, he persisted, building a career cooking classic Italian dishes like cacio e pepe (cheese + pepper).

Today, he shares his love for classic Italian recipes and cooking techniques though his video interview series for Vice, Old-School Italian Cooking With Danny Smiles.

Grande grande grande​ 
Alessandra Tropeano sings classic Italian songs that were hits many decades ago. (Submitted by: Alessandra Tropeano)

Alessandra Tropeano is a singer and organizer of arts events in the Montreal-Italian community

She sings classic Italian songs, in Italian.

She grew up in Laval, speaking – and singing – in Italian.

As a teen, she entered an Italian singing competition with her sister Felicia, and she hasn't stopped performing since.

Now, 10 years later, she sings regularly at fundraisers and community and private events – and always in Italian.

Audiences love her renditions of classic Italian songs such as Grande grande grande, a number 1 hit in Italy more than 40 years ago.

Tropeano says people are surprised and happy to see a young Italian-Montrealer performing older songs in Italian.

Handmade suits

Sandro Battaglia is a tailor and the co-owner of Battaglia and Aly, located in Little Italy.

Sandro Battaglia is a tailor and the co-owner of the menswear boutique Battaglia and Aly. (Submitted by: Sandro Battaglia)

That's where he and his team design and produce high-end menswear.

Battaglia grew up in Rivière-des-Prairies, watching and helping his tailor father, a Sicilian immigrant, at work.

His own flair for fashion showed itself early.

He wore bow ties to kindergarten, and a fur hat to church.

When he decided become a tailor professionally, his parents were opposed. They said it was a dying industry, and the work was too hard.

However, Battaglia was betting on a tailoring revival, and he was right.

Today, his thriving Montreal company creates more than 500 handmade suits a year.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.