Ernesto Iaccarino is chef at the 2-Michelin starred restaurant Don Alfonso 1980, in Sant'Agata dei due Golfi: an amazing location on the Sorrentine coastline, not far from Naples.
Fine Dining Lovers interviewed him to better understand which is the relationship between the territory, local ingredients and culinary tradition.
How does territory influence your style of cuisine?
I’d say in an all-encompassing way. Since 1990, here at the Don Alfonso 1890 restaurant, we’ve had an organic farm of 7 hectares that faces Capri, in a magical part of the coastline. I can say with certainty that we cook daily with ingredients that come from our land. On the one hand, it’s the territory that suggests our ingredients, and on the other, our culture and identity find their expression in the dish.
What’s the local ingredient that you could never do without, and why?
My first answer would be the heart. Because the heart is where passion and love of food comes from. Then I’d say extra-virgin olive oil, which is perhaps the ingredient that best expresses the Mediterranean identity that characterizes our dishes.
Let’s consider the traditional dish that you’re revisiting for our readers: potato crocquettes, that you turned into an exclusive Horseradish Croquettedish (in the picture). How does tradition meet with innovation here?
When a chef prepares a dish, he adds his experiences and beliefs. A dish is the result of life experience, not just a single moment. Our dishes resemble our own selves. You carry tradition around inside of you, almost as a part of your genetic makeup, and the innovation comes from what kind of life you’ve lived. In this case, travel and cooking techniques.
What’s the dish on your menu that best expresses your tie to the territory?
One that I created this year called Calamari kisses filled with today’s catch on a bed of basil and Marrakech spices. It’s a “kiss” – a kind of ravioli made from calamari skin – filled with freshly caught seafood, then sprinkled with spices for piquant touch, which is such an important part of the Mediterranean, and then ends with the final freshness of basil.
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