DANTE Chef de Cuisine talks about his inspiration, training, and working experiences with Salwa Beach Resort.
Interview by: Leslie Fernandez
Alfonso Ferraioli entered the hospitality industry as a young Italian chef with a keen passion of becoming the kitchen star. Since then, he hasn’t looked back. Alfonso’s journey emanated with its fair share of obstacles, learning, innovation, and inspiration. Diligently working towards his goals, Alfonso is making his mark in Qatar’s hospitality industry.
Let’s learn about Alfonso Ferraioli’s successful culinary journey from him.
Being a Napoli Ragazzo
We asked Alfonso about his childhood at Napoli.
“Napoli has a mesmerizing corniche and I had the best childhood memories there.” Alfonso told us. “Our family’s farm is the best place to find the freshest ingredients to make flavorful meals. I lived in Napoli until I was 20 years old, and started my overseas journey as an Italian Chef.”
How it all started?
Alfonso briefly told us about the journey that led him towards becoming the Chef de Cuisine at Hilton Salwa Beach Resort and Villas.
“I completed my Diploma of Culinary Arts at Casanova Paritario in 2004. Mastered authentic Italian cuisine and also focused on the Western cuisine. Apart from being passionate in the kitchen, I’m keen to learn about other languages such as Arabic and Chinese.
I developed my talents overseas as a Chef de Cuisine, with a focus on Western dishes –Italian, French, Spanish, and German.
The diversity of my culinary expertise has allowed me introduce innovation into the meals at Dante Restaurant; which is part of Hilton Salwa Beach Resort & Villas. Our authentic Tuscany concept with rich Italian dishes are prepared with a twist to suit the taste and preferences of our guests.”
The Secret of Signature Taste
We asked Alfonso about the secret of his flavorful recipes. And to our surprise, it didn’t come from any high-end culinary school. It derived from his own roots –his home! His inspiration came from his mother and grandma’s cooking style.
“Growing up in the countryside made me appreciate the rich flavor and aroma of authentic Italian cuisine.” He told us.
“I would pluck tomatoes, herbs, and other vegetables from the farm and prepare the tastiest sauces with my mother. I still remember the joy of making homemade ravioli pasta and drinks with grapes from the mountains with my grandmother in the kitchen. It was fascinating preparing everything from scratch.”
Dante is spreading the Love of Italian Cuisine in Middle East
Dante is maintaining a fusion of Italian cuisine with Middle Eastern warmth and the locals are loving it. We asked Alfonso what Dante is doing to keep making its guests coming back.
Alfonso told LLQ Lifestlye with a smile on his face. “Italian cuisine is very famous around the globe, especially in the Middle East. At Dante, we have redefined Italian cuisine by introducing new flavors and combining that with the Italian touch and Hilton hospitality to create memorable experiences for our guests.”
Favorite Italian Ingredients?
Alfonso’s secret ingredients for his Italian cuisine is all about keeping the authentic flavors that came straight from Napoli.
“Tomato, basil, oregano, mozzarella, parmesan cheese, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil are my best friends in the kitchen.” He said.
Is there a Chef Alfonso admires the Most?
We asked and got a totally unexpected answer.
“Absolutely my mother and grandmother. They influenced me to produce all the basic and authentic sauces; highlighting my favorite ingredient – tomato.”
Implementing the Food Safety Rules
Alfonso takes food safety as the most important thing to consider during meal production. We asked about his ways of food safety implementation in restaurant.
“Food Safety is our number one priority in the restaurant from meal production to service. We ensure that all the raw products purchased are of high quality. With that we follow the First In, First Out rule which ensures that food inventory received first are used.
We follow strict Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) standards which guarantees we are able to effectively address physical, chemical and microbiological hazards in the kitchen.”
Involvement in Meal Development at Dante and HSBR
The role of Chef de Cuisine is really important in menu development and introducing exciting flavors to the guests. On inquiring, Alfonso told us about his contribution.
“I am actively involved with the menu development for Dante. I work closely with my team to regularly review the popularity of items on our menu and modifying it based on the needs and preferences of our guests.
I also regularly review our menu pricing to ensure we are competitive and provide our guests with the best value for their money, while ensuring our food costs are within set targets.”
Working Experience at Hilton Salwa Beach Resort & Villas
Alfonso has been in hospitality industry for quite a while. Working at a beach resort surely comes up as a different experience. On our asking, Alfonso gave a really interesting answer.
“With every challenge comes an opportunity to make a difference. I do not regard the experiences at Hilton Salwa Beach Resort & Villas as challenges but as an opportunity to learn more and put a smile on the faces of our guests.
Collaborating with the team in a diverse environment enables me to broaden my horizons about different cultures which molds me towards becoming a better leader.”
About the Dante’s Unique Menu
The place surely has something for everyone. We asked Alfonso how Dante creates such scrumptious offerings; he gave us the secret.
“Dante restaurant has a sharing concept, with authentic Tuscan signature dishes such as the Crostoni Toscani which is seared chicken livers, served with charcoal garlic bread. We also have Panzanella salad which contains sliced cucumbers and heirloom tom berry tomatoes, served with Garlic crunchy bread. Across our menu from the pasta, pizza, seafood, mocktails, each item is made with love and also with a vision to immerse guests in an authentic Tuscan experience to discover the taste of Italy.”
Alfonso’s Favorite Cuisine
No, it’s not Italian! You’d be shocked to know what Dante’s chef likes to have for himself.
“Arabic cuisine excites my palate! It is rich in flavors and history.”
“Based on the region we operate, we have a number of Arabic and Qatari guests that visit us. It is important to understand their preferences; and to personalize their dining experiences based on these preferences.”
Dante’s Special Menu
If we want a trade mark of Dante, what would you prepare for us that’s exclusively spring menu? We asked the chef de cuisine.
I will start off with a Bruschetta sharing option for the guests and top it up with our Lasagna Alla Bolognese. For desert, guests can enjoy the sweet flavors of our Panna Cotta with a twist or our Gelato!
Updating the Culinary Trends
Innovation is the key of success. People like new things as it keeps up the excitement, especially when it comes to the food. How do Alfonso keeps up with the new trends?
“Well, by reading books, watching Master Chefs and Michelin starred Chefs to stay updated.” He told.
Quality Assessment of Ingredients
High-quality ingredients are the key to provide a worthy menu. Alfonso described how they test the quality of their ingredients.
“At Hilton, we are committed to responsibly sourcing our products through our Travel with Purpose initiative.”
“We ensure that our meat, poultry, sea food and other food items are sourced by tested and trusted vendors and encourage each supplier to set goals and validate them through regular audits. Being part of such a global chain we benefit from the due diligence of vendors carried out at the corporate level to ensure responsible sourcing.”
What to Expect at Hilton Salwa Beach Resort & Villas?
Italian food lovers –here’s what you can expect at Dante –Hilton Salwa Beach Resort & Villas.
As one of the top Italian restaurants in Qatar, we offer our guests a sharing concept and a theatrical cooking experience with our open kitchen. Guests are guaranteed an authentic Italian experience and exceptional service like nowhere else.