Caterina Ceraudo


Caterina Ceraudo

As one of southern Italy’s most forward-thinking chefs, Caterina Ceraudo serves simple yet inventive cuisine on a biodynamic farm in Calabria.

Growing up on a farm in southern Italy is the sort of childhood we all wish we had. Even better if a large part of that farm is home to vineyards – although that’s a perk that can only be enjoyed during adulthood. It’s a life that Caterina Ceraudo certainly relished – so much so that she continues to work at the family farm to this day.

Born in 1980s Calabria, Caterina grew up in a farming family of wine obsessives – her father Roberto bought the farm in 1974 and has been producing biodynamic wine for the past twenty years. Planting vines amongst olive trees up to 1,900 years old in the beautiful Calabrian countryside certainly made the farm look picture perfect, but it was when Caterina spent her summer holidays curating the wine list at the family restaurant that she really fell in love with wine.

This love for wine spurred Caterina on to study oenology in Tuscany for four years in 2007, and she became an expert sommelier in her own right. But during her course, she began to fall in love with another side of the hospitality business – cooking. Deciding that the kitchen was where she wanted to specialise, she began getting all the experience she could. That culminated during a year in Castel di Sangro in Abruzzo, where she worked with chef Niko Romito (owner of three Michelin-starred restaurant Reale) at his culinary school. Her time there formed her into a fully fledged chef with a deep understanding of techniques, ingredients and flavour combinations.

After a few more jobs working across Italy and Bordeaux in France, Caterina decided to return home to her family’s restaurant – Dattilo – with the hope of making it her own. It was already a respected restaurant in its own right, winning a Michelin star in 2012 thanks to its previous head chef Lucan Francesco Rizzuti. Her father agreed, and in 2013 Dattilo became Caterina’s own project. With her brother working at the winery and her sister watching over the marketing side of the business, Caterina was responsible for the restaurant itself, which is housed in an old mill. Despite the menu changing quite significantly, the restaurant retained its star.

Caterina’s elegant cooking has one goal – to bring traditional Calabrian cuisine into the twenty-first century. Being based in the middle of a biodynamic farm certainly has its merits – a lot of the produce comes directly from the family’s own fields, as do many of the wines and olive oils. Oranges, tangerines, figs, pears and apricots all make an appearance when in season, and the extensive herb and vegetable garden is harvested year-round. Caterina is particularly fond of using organic, biodynamic eggs from the farm’s own hens.

The Calabrian countryside offers inspiration to Caterina’s cooking style, too. Seafood, lamb, veal and local cheeses are common sights on her menus. She tends to keep things simple, only adding things to the dish if they enhance the flavours of the star ingredients. Her time in restaurants like Reale make Caterina one of the best chefs in Italy – and at just twenty-nine years old, there are certainly more stars in her future.