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Ernesto Iaccarino

Ernesto Iaccarino

After asking for a job in the kitchen, Ernesto began to work as hard as he could at Don Alfonso. One morning, he woke up before everyone else and prepared two dishes of his own making, calling in his mother and father to taste them. The dishes ended up on the menu and just one month later became the most popular. ‘I had waited for that moment for so long, the emotion almost suffocated me,’ says Ernesto. ‘My father stopped considering me a nuisance and began to trust me.’

Seventeen years later and Ernesto is now head chef at Don Alfonso. His father is now retired but continues to look after the family gardens, where all the vegetables are grown for the restaurant. The menu reflects Ernesto’s own life, particularly childhood memories, like the time he went to drink some milk from the fridge which had been sitting next to some of his father’s truffles, infusing it with their aroma. The dishes follow his inner journey, highlighting the family’s own produce from the garden and celebrating the flavours of the Amalfi coast. These days, the only thing Ernesto lacks is time: ‘I am never satisfied. I wish I had more time to experiment in the kitchen.’

Three things you should know

Ernesto is incredibly passionate about using fresh produce and makes the most of the local olive oils, lemons and seafood throughout his cuisine.

In 1990 and again in 2013, Ernesto went to Japan to discover the country’s food and drink. It was here that he gained a newfound respect for ingredients, and he started to include at international influences in his cooking.

One of Ernesto’s favourite dishes is a simple combination of good pasta, salt, garlic, good quality extra virgin olive oil and Vesuvius tomatoes.