I, like my wife Livia, am from a family who have been in the hotel trade for four generations. After hotel management school in Stresa, we wanted to open our own restaurant, and this prompted a bit of a row in my family. For ten years, and with this hanging over us, we kept both the hotel and the restaurant going between us before devoting ourselves body and soul to the Don Alfonso 1890 restaurant.
We have travelled, studied the customs, the food, the vineyards, the markets for fruit, meat, fish in places where there are lively traditions.
Then we set up our own farm “Le Peracciole”, which has become an integral part of our restaurant.
What was your most moving culinary experience?
With Livia, at La Tour d’Argent 35 year ago. We were in the company of a famous French writer and we were captivated by the atmosphere, the charm, the welcome, the attention to the minutest detail. Claude Terrail has always been, for me, a master in the art of living and in style.
The most amusing kitchen incident you ever witnessed?
15 years ago, on Christmas Eve, Luigi, our fishmonger, gave us a present of 7 kg of live eels. They were in a basin full of water. In the kitchen we were all very busy and nobody noticed a fine specimen escape from the basin and head for the dining room... They were lots of people in the restaurant, and a good number of startled guests climbed up onto the tables. When the maître d’hôtel told me what had happened, I came straight out of the kitchen and with the help of my team, managed to catch the eel and cook it in time-honoured fashion: nicely grilled! Then we served it up to all of our guests who were charmed by its incredibly tender flesh...
Your best piece of advice for amateur chefs?
Be aware of what nature has to offer, what is best in your area and what is in season and bear that in mind when you create your meal.