TORONTO ― While Canada may not lay claim to a Michelin-rated restaurant, Toronto’s food community recently had a chance to sample the cuisine of one of Italy’s top Michelin-rated chefs. Ernesto Iaccarino, the third-generation chef of the two Michelin star-rated restaurant Don Alfonso 1890 in Sant’Agata sui due Golfi in Sorrento, Italy, joined chef Rob Gentile at Buca restaurant to create a five-course menu that paired the dishes with a fine selection of wines from Italian winemaker Antonio Benati. The menu featured Ricciola Affumicata (smoked Amberjack, orange peel, whipped fava bean, fennel seeds and citrus aioli); Rigatoni Timballo, with meatballs, peas, ricotta and tomato; poached New Brunswick eel in a broth of fish and seasonal vegetables; and Veal Beneventano. The dessert highlighted a Zabaglione featuring espresso cream.
For Iaccarino, who closed his famed restaurant for two days to travel to Canada for the first time, the visit was meaningful. “It’s great to be here because I have a lot of Canadian guests in my restaurant,” he told the close to 100 food aficionados who paid $300 a ticket for the chance to taste the celebrated cuisine. Iaccarino’s restaurant was founded by his parents and named after his grandfather with whom the Iaccarino family’s legacy in hospitality began. Don Alfonso received its first Michelin star in 1985 and currently holds two stars.
For Gentile this marks the third “Sotto Una Buona Stella” (Under a Lucky Star) dinner he’s collaborated on this past year. Earlier this year, the restaurant also welcomed Massimo Bottura of Osteria Francescana near Milan. “We’re very excited in the kitchen,” said the chef, defining Iaccarino’s cuisine as “very traditional but refined.”
“Under a Lucky Star is about education, solidarity and real Italian gastronomy,” said Giuseppe Pastorelli, Consul General of Italy in Toronto, who welcomed guests to the dinner. “All proceeds go to an endowment at George Brown College for students with skills but who may not afford to go there.”
Lorraine Trotter, dean, Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts thanked the guests for their support, explaining “For the past 10 years we have been sending students to Italy but it’s been a struggle for some students because they can’t afford it. Many students will now be able to go. We are indebted for your support,” she told the audience.
Peter Tsebelis, co-owner of King Street Food Company, which owns Buca, told the crowd there are three more “Sotto Una Buona Stella” dinners being planned for 2016/’17.