Cuisine of all five senses

Autor: Alberta Voltolini

Was it the call of the mountains that convinced Chef Giovanni D’Alitta to settle down here in the Brenta Dolomites after all his travels around Italy and out to the Americas and the Orient?

Stube Hermitage, the first Campiglio restaurant to earn a Michelin star After all, the Dolomiti Lucane mountain range in Basilicata, where D’Alitta grew up, are imprinted on his childhood memories, memories that will certainly have been evoked and amplified here in the original Dolomites from which that other mountain range got its name. For two years now, D’Alitta has been at the helm of Stube Hermitage, the first Campiglio restaurant to earn a Michelin star, which it did in 2008.

This important recognition, which is the symbol of haute cuisine all over the world, has been kept until 2014 and then won back in November 2018. Dining in this restaurant within Biohotel Hermitage is a voyage of the senses featuring local produce, wild herbs and other mountain edibles in a unique union with the charm of nearby cultures and a hint of the allure of the Orient for a harmonious symphony of avors, aromas, colors and textures that is never excessive and always pleasing.

TODAY MADONNA DI CAMPIGLIO IS UNIQUE AMONG THE MOUNTAIN TOURIST RESORTS: 3 MICHELIN-STARRED RESTAURANTS IN ONLY ONE MOUNTAIN VILLAGEStube Hermitage, a traditional eatery that dates back to the early 1900s, is the result of a journey like many others in the Campiglio area over the last 15-20 years towards the top ights of mountain cuisine. A local family with a long history of hotel management - Giacomino Maffei together with his wife, Edda, and their two daughters, Barbara and Marcella - is responsible for this project of fine dining  and mountain beauty, having transformed, in 2000, the cozy Hermitage pension into a four-star hotel that was one of the Alps’ first eco-hotels.

In 2006, they then opened the hotel’s restaurant to the public in a space marked by both charm and elegance. We met with Barbara Maffei one sunny autumn day. The hotel was closed and winter had not yet arrived, but Christmas was already in the air. In corners of the hotel and restaurant, sparkling decorations had already taken their place in a family ritual that repeats itself year after year. “The most important thing for us is our family history,” says Barbara Maffei, “so we take this commitment to family and transform it into thrills and enjoyment for our guests.

We hope to lend value and continuity to a journey that began with our grandmother, Camilla, who was an excellent cook, and then continued with my father.” The Michelin star paved the way for you to become one of the most highly regarded restaurants in the Dolomites. How have your chefs contributed to this journey? “Claudio Melis was definitely the most creative. He would stay up at night to come up with his dishes. He helped us lay the groundwork for the Michelin star, which we then achieved with Paolo Cappuccio, the chef who proved to be the most daring. He was the one who brought fish and shellfish to mountain cuisine. Then came the young chef Nicola Laera, pupil of Norbert Niederkofler, and now the kitchen is led by Giovanni D’Alitta. He isn’t what you would call a stereotypical celebrity chef.

Giovanni is ambitious, but he takes time to achieve results. I’d say that his cuisine is more controlled and, if I had to make a comparison, I’d say his dishes are more like what I saw from Laera. In the creativity of his gourmet dishes there is a hint of tradition, a particular attention to rediscovering local delicacies, and unique emphasis on edible mountain herbs.” Today, Michelin-starred again. The quality and the hard work have rewarded you again.

“For all described above and much more, in November 2018 the Michelin Star has been given to us again and we are already in the new Guide 2019. For all us it is a great satisfaction. The guests who come here from abroad find us in part because of that star. High-end guests don’t go to unknown restaurants – ends Barbara Maffei – and the farther they travel, the more guarantees they look for.”


Italian culinary tradition meets innovation and creativity in Madonna di Campiglio’s gourmet restaurants. Stube Hermitage is one of the most representative examples of how they interpret quality cuisine.


LO CHEF GIOVANNI D’ALITTA

His motto is “We’re all nobodies, but together we can achieve everything”.Originally from Lavello, in the Italian region of Basilicata, Giovanni D’Alitta began his career in the Lake Garda area before landing a position at Aimo e Nadia, a Michelin two-star restaurant in Milan, and then at Manerba sul Garda’s Capriccio, with one Michelin star. After a brief stint at Canto della Certosa in Maggiano, he was drawn by the mountains and joined the team at Siriola (two Michelin stars) at San Cassiano’s Hotel Ciasa Salares.

In 2010, D’Alitta’s career changed gears as he flew to Antigua to work at Jumby Bay’s Rosewood Resort, one of the world’s most luxurious vacation destinations, where he stayed for two years and helped open their new luxury Italian restaurant, the Estate House. In 2013, he got the call from Dubai to join the Jumeirah group as the chef of Alta Badia Dubai, a restaurant on the ftieth floor of the city’s iconic Jumeirah Emirates Towers. Which brings us to today and the “Campiglio chapter” of the D’Alitta story.


A WORD WITH THE CHEF!

When did you realize that cooking was your calling in life and not just a job?
I got my passion for food from the cooks at my school when I was a child, from the aromas of my homeland and of the simple, wholesome foods they served and that took advantage of seasonal produce. Then my curiosity drove me to learn about the cuisine of other regions in Italy and from around the world.

Your cuisine is particularly known for how it respects and takes advantage of tradition while still being creative. Can you talk a bit about this?
As I began my career, I developed technique, and with experience I learned the right methods, whether traditional or modern, to make lighter dishes by reducing fats and sugars.
In this way, I can respect the ingredients while creating a dish that represents a journey of knowledge, but without being heavy, and which is able to amaze the customers who come to the restaurant.

So it’s about taking advantage of the ingredients and avoiding excess.
I stay away from overly aggressive eccentricity. In the kitchen, it’s all about avor, but we mustn’t forget beauty and wellbeing. I’m a firm believer in teamwork, so there needs to be the right atmosphere in the kitchen.

What’s the meaning behind your cuisine, in just a few words?
Every day, I try to turn my passion for food into a harmony of avor and beauty. The careful selection of ingredients is the main step in the creation of dishes that always include a bit of the territory in which I’m working, as well as influences from around Italy and even a bit from abroad. I don’t seek to stupefy with my dishes, but rather to evoke an emotion and a memory-a memory about that which is good and simple-with that creative touch of mine that is a part of my own style of living.

Cuisine of all five senses
Another strength is “fairness in cooking”: preparing a dish starts from very-high quality, healthy and genuine products, fruit of a research started many years ago and led by the management of the Stube Hermitage restaurant, in synergy with its chef.

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