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Following the reopening of Il Sereno Hotel, we decided to catch up with Chef Raffaele Lenzi on Al Lago restaurant and the evolution of his cuisine. Keep reading to find out what makes his cooking unique and the different culinary styles featured at Il Sereno and Le Sereno.

What inspires you in terms of your selection and combination of flavours? I find inspiration in contrasts – sweet and bitter, soft and crunchy, hot and cold, but also from a combination of gastronomic cultures. Typically, inspiration comes from my personal favourites, things I pick up during travels or visits to other restaurants. A lot of my inspiration comes from Asia and their cuisine.   What is your favourite dish on the menu right now? The fruit and vegetable minestrone. I really love this dish because every bite is different – it’s a unique combination of flavours I enjoy, all mixed together. The lemongrass in the middle really balances it out.   Which contemporary chef do you admire the most?  I admire Andreas Caminada, Enrico Crippa, and Mauro Colagreco.

Where do you source your ingredients from? Most of our ingredients are sourced from all over Italy and are vary based on seasonality. We aim to source the majority locally where possible, even if the product is originally foreign – for example, if the ingredient is Japanese, we can typically find someone in Italy producing the same thing, like pak choi.   How would you say your style of cooking evolved over the years? I’ve always cooked with the same philosophy of light, healthy food that tastes spectacular. Lately, I have been focusing on incorporating more vegetables with smaller portions of animal protein.   Do you draw inspiration from the seasons? Seasonality of products is fundamental in my kitchen.

You’re very into healthy living – how do you incorporate that into your cuisine? Eating healthily is the ultimate way to aid your body and mind. I try to feature the quality of the product without putting too much emphasis on it. The key is good quality ingredients and preparation that doesn’t impact its nutritional value.   What herbs do you grow yourself? Listing them all would be impossible but we grow red basil, sorrel, thyme, rosemary, dill, and fennel to name a few.   What cooking techniques do you use to preserve nutrients in your meals? It depends on the product but some of the techniques we use are fermentation, cold extraction and, above all, express cooking.  

When it comes to compiling menus, how is your approach different for Il Sereno vs. Le Sereno’s menu? They are two completely different things, the only thing they have in common is our core philosophy, to offer light, delicious, healthy food. At Le Sereno, the menu is more simple with fewer ingredients. We allow ourselves to be carried away by Italian traditions and interpret it in a light, healthy way. Il Sereno, on the other hand, is far more sophisticated and technical. The food at Al Lago is a true expression of my cuisine, I choose the products and then I process them Essence and lightness are the focus points for my cuisine in both restaurants.

If you have yet to visit  Al Lago restaurant at Il Sereno, join us for a set degustation or à la carte dining all while admiring the magnificent lakeside views. Better yet, treat yourself to the full Sereno Hotels experience with a few nights spent at the hotel or our sister property, Villa Pliniana.

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