An Italian restaurateur known as the “father of tiramisu” has died aged 93. Ado Campeol died at his home in Treviso, in the Veneto region, on Saturday.
Although the dessert’s origins are often disputed and the family never asserted copyright over the recipe, Campeol and his wife, Alba, the owners of the restaurant Alle Beccherie, are widely considered to be its inventors.
According to historians, the dish – featuring egg yolks whipped with mascarpone cheese, layered over coffee-soaked biscuits and topped with bitter cocoa powder – was added to their restaurant’s menu in 1972.
The word tiramisù, literally translated as “lift me up”, comes from the Treviso dialect’s “tireme su”, and the dessert was claimed to have aphrodisiac effects.
Roberto Linguanotto, a chef who worked at Alle Beccherie and is described by many as the dessert’s co-inventor, said tiramisu was the result of an accident.
Campeol’s son Carlo, who now runs the restaurant, said: “When Alba was breastfeeding me a few years earlier, she had turned to mascarpone mixed with sugar and biscuits soaked in coffee to keep her energy up, which is traditional in Treviso. Then, with her chef, she turned those elements into a pudding.”
Campeol had worked since he was a young boy at Le Beccherie, which his family took over in 1939. “My father was an extremely correct person, very attached to his family, a serious professional,” Carlo told the Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera. “He was an inspiration to us all”.
The governor of the Veneto region, Luca Zaia, wrote on Twitter: “The city lost another star in its food and wine history.” In 2013 Zaia pushed to win EU certification for the sweet, which would set in stone the exact ingredients used the day it was invented in Campeol’s.
Numerous variations of tiramisu exist. Some chefs use other cakes such as panettone. Although the original recipe – certified by the Italian Academy of Cuisine in 2010 – was alcohol-free, variants include alcohol such as rum or marsala.
“Every country has their own taste,” Linguanotto once said. “As long as it lifts you up, it’s fine by me.”