Belmond Hotel Caruso Interview
Positioned on the cliffs of Ravello on Italy’s Amalfi Coast, the former 11th-century palace of Belmond Hotel Caruso has a remarkably scenic setting amid cliff-side terraced gardens, overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea. These views can be taken in from the outdoor infinity pool, or from the hotel’s covered terrace, which is where diners spill out onto from the elegant Belvedere Restaurant. Having become known for its innovative take on traditional Italian cuisine and use of fresh, local ingredients, Belvedere Restaurant was named Restaurant of the Year in the European Hospitality Awards 2016. We speak to the Executive Chef, Mimmo di Raffaele, to find out what it is that makes a meal here so special.
How does your background reflect the dishes you create now?
I was born in Caserta, a city in the south of Italy, and raised among the abundant orchards, vineyards and olive groves in the area that the Romans named Campania felix, or ‘happy country’. No doubt, I have a deep attachment to my south Italian roots and my family traditions, which are now reflected in my kitchen style; I always try to bring back a little taste of the flavors of my childhood memories.
Does the menu at Belvedere Restaurant represent the region of Italy that it’s in?
All my dishes represent a different area of Italy, but especially the Campania region, which is where I’m from. I am now based in a territory – The Amalfi Coast – where the mountains blend into the sea, so I feel it’s important to have dishes that represent these ‘two souls’, too. Here, lamb can meet ingredients like prawns, anchovies and lemons. Guests of Belvedere Restaurant want to try the best of the regional cuisine, and our aim is to satisfy those wishes with local and authentic ingredients and delicious recipes.
Are all of the ingredients you use sourced locally and in season?
The majority of the food is grown in the area and we have our own herb garden at the hotel. I like to visit local markets and farms where I look for the best products, such as Sfusato Amalfitano lemons, Anchovy Colatura, Provolone del Monaco cheese, and Maialino Nero Casertano cured meat. For me, inspiration comes from everywhere though, from the hotel’s views to the Mediterranean gardens, as well as the flavors of the region. This inspires me to use the ingredients I love in a creative way. Even the hotel’s great history has encouraged me to stay loyal to our cooking traditions.
The Belvedere menu is designed to follow the seasons, with dishes like the starter ‘springtime in the garden’, which is a seasonal selection of spring vegetables and polenta. In autumn, the starter ‘autumn in the garden’ comes with a selection of autumn vegetables such pumpkin and Porcini mushrooms with chestnuts.
Source: Elite Traveler. See the full interview here.
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