When it comes to taking on a national cuisine, Italians have strong values on authenticity. In addition to that, standing strong to maintain a high standard of consistency is never too much or too high of an expectation when it comes to chefs on Italian cuisines. Having opened his first Asian outlet in Macau and 2 Michelin stars later, Don Alfonso 1890 has become one of the quintessential labels for Italian cuisine in Macau. Chef Alfonso took a moment to let us in on his philosophy and culinary quest to create a piece of Southern Italy on this side of the world.
The philosophy determines the values a chef believe in and how his culinary creations are based on. Chef Alfonso, a true Italian chef, is every bit
about the characteristics of the cuisine that nests his culinary style,thus help shaping the signature dishes at his restaurant. “At Don Alfonso 1890, we serve authentic Southern Italian cuisine where the freshest and highest quality ingredients are cooked in the most skillful and simplest ways to preserve their original flavours,” explained Chef Alfonso. Italian cuisine has been known for strong Mediterranean influence and the abundance of the fresh produce used. There is little need for elaborate preparation which complicates and compromises the ingredients’ freshness. Chef Alfonso knows exactly that when it comes to the directions of his cooking and creating his signature dishes. “Don Alfonso Spaghetti and
Neapolitan are very popular dishes among our regulars. That said, every dish on the menu is a signature dish as they are all specially created to balance the traditions of Southern Italian cuisine while retaining and respecting the original flavours of the ingredients. “Having been an established chef in Italy, foodies across the region were excited about the opening of Don Alfonso 1890 with equal parts thrill and anticipation. Chef Alfonso explained how he came to opening his first Asian outlet in Macau.I was invited in 2007 by Mr. Alan Ho, the executive director of the Lisboa Hotels, to open this place in Macau,“ said Chef Alfonso, understanding the PROXIMITY of the invitation.“I felt that Mr.Ho and I shared
the same strong philosophy about culinary excellence and quality, and Ho’s passion and commitment towards providing the best dining experience for customers and setting the benchmark in the Food and Beverage industry gave me great confidence to coming on board to open the Don Alfonso restaurant in Macau.” With much assurance, Alfonso and Ho went on with opening the restaurant, with no current plans for another one anywhere else in Asia.
It may sound easy to pull of well-known Italian dishes as the restaurant’s signatures, but the creative process takes more than pulling out a cookbook and cook. “There is no fixed time-frame for the creation of a dish as several factors have to come together, including a chef’s
expertise and the availability of special seasonal ingredients, especially because we only use the freshest and best quality ingredients,” continued Chef Alfonso. “My approach and inspiration comes from a combination of values from Southern Italian customs, gastronomic traditions, to the respect I pay for fresh ingredients and food products I use.”
When asked about his best creation, Chef Alfonso wasn’t about to pick one from his repertoire. “All my dishes are important creations. However, if I really must name one as the best one, it’d be the Pastiere Souffle with Orange Blossom Sorbet, which is a very classic Napoleon dessert we usually have during spring of every year. Traditionally the dessert which is made
with wheat and egg is heavy in texture, but I tweaked the recipe a bit and turn it into a pastry form for a lighter, fluffier texture without losing the original flavor of the dessert. I believe it offers a more balanced palette for my customers. “In Sorrento, Italy, Chef Alfonso owns a vegetable garden where he keeps his supply of raw materials dedicated to his cooking. With strong emphasis on freshness, Chef Alfonso explains on re-creating Italian food in Macau. “The quality of ingredients is very important.A qualified chef should have the ability to define fresh ingredients.More than 75% of our ingredients are imported from Italy as well as my farm in Sorrento while others are sourced from Macau.It is also
important to note that quality is no necessarily dependent on where it comes from – it is the color, taste, smell, and texture that matters.” Given the difference in availability of ingredients between places, so are the different takes on food between people in Italy and Macau. “From what I’ve observed, Chinese people prefer less salt in their food, and they also prefer their pasta to be more ‘well-cooked’. “ Other than working in his Don Alfonso 1890 kitchen, Chef Alfonso has been actively engaged in developing an impressive product line including an array of pasta, tomato sauce and olive oil, but that’s not all, as he sheds light on his next venture in his own food products.“We’re always interested in