23 February 2024

Pasticceria Massimo Papa prepares 16,000 cannoli to celebrate community at annual event

| Keeli Royle
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Massimo Papa with cannoli.

Massimo is making thousands of cannoli ahead of this weekend’s event. Photo: Keeli Royle.

The Illawarra’s most popular pasticceria is set to be inundated with customers on its annual ‘Cannoli Day’, with Massimo Papa preparing to sell thousands of the Italian treats.

Massimo started the tradition of the one-day extravaganza almost a decade ago and has watched the event soar in popularity, with people showing up in droves year after year.

“It’s a crazy day,” he said.

“Every year I prepare more because there was a year where we were unprepared – we had around 7000 cannoli and we went up to 12,000 so we were cooking and making it during the day.

“Last year we went up to around 14,000 so this year we’re preparing for anything between 16,000 to 17,000.”

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Customers travel from across the region and even Sydney to line up around the block of the small Fairy Meadow venue and buy dozens upon dozens of the cannoli at a reduced rate, which has remained unchanged despite rising costs for the business.

“Nine years ago we would do them for one or two dollars and we still do them for one or two dollars,” Massimo said. “It’s not about the money – because of the price we don’t make money, but it doesn’t matter because we enjoy it to see it, people with a happy face when they eat it.”

As the crowds have grown, Massimo has added extra elements to the event such as face painting and live music to make the wait more entertaining and now even hosts a cannoli eating competition.

“The record is 20 cannoli in 11 minutes; it was incredible to see,” he said.

“Before him we went from half an hour, to 22 minutes and the last was 11 minutes … since that three years have passed and no-one can beat the record.

“That’s incredible – that’s a large cannoli, so almost two kilograms of product with custard and shells.”

The event is a massive amount of work, with the team putting in countless hours to make it a reality.

But Massimo is determined to keep it going, and growing, as a way to reward his loyal customers and give back to the community that have helped his business skyrocket.

“Cannoli Day for me is a special thank you to my customers for coming to me all year round and enjoying everything I make.

“Over the past four or five years the business has tripled what it was at the beginning.

“Now we’re building next door and that’s going to be bigger than this because our kitchen has become too small and we need more space and more tables and more people to work because every year it grows more and more and more.”

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But he hopes that as businesses like his continue to grow to meet community demands, that local councils look to remove barriers, after he experienced difficulties in creating a patio area in the carpark and when designing the new neighbouring site.

“Like next door – they want to build the building one and half metres higher,” he said.

“We have a lot of older people and people who don’t want stairs or ramps and the council does nothing to make it easier for the people who want to make a business.”

Massimo hopes that councils will also invest more into free events to help build community spirit, as can be seen every Cannoli Day.

“I can’t do much but if everyone around the country could do something to help the social life we will build a great culture for Australia,” he said.

Cannoli Day is this Sunday 25 February from 8 am at Pasticceria Massimo Papa in Fairy Meadow.

For more information or to enter the cannoli eating competition visit the Pasticceria Massimo Papa website.

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