The Impossible, Improbable Kitchen – Il San Pietro


Il San Pietro

The Impossible, improbable kitchen

by Darren

Very few kitchens have been described as fit to launch the space shuttle, but if there ever was one it resides atop a cliff towering over the Amalfi Coast. Il San Pietro di Positano is a storied hotel. It is the definition of ‘grown up.’ Sophistication personified. The reception lounge is one of those great spots to watch the world go by. The terrace has views that have challenged vocabularies far superior to mine. The beach club, the tennis courts and the rooms are best-in-show in Italy’s best-in-show town. Yet they all pale in comparison to the kitchen which, on one level, is an interior design masterpiece and on the other, a technical achievement par excellence. 

Darren and Caitlin with long time friend Chef Alois of Zass at Il San Pietro

The price tag is well publicized (millions of Euros) as is the construction feat (equipment and metals were helicoptered to the site) but the ballet inside the kitchen is not. Staggered over different levels, the kitchen is a melange of high tech storage spaces, high performance prep stations and state-of-the-art appliances. Cutting edge might be a gross understatement. 

Caitlin at San Pietro

Caitlin’s long-time friend Alois Vanlangenaeker is the head chef of Zass in charge of all things culinary at San Pietro. He took us on a step-by-step, intimate tour of his masterpiece. As impressive as the space and operations are, the story of the provenance of the ingredients stands out: Alois has developed relationships with purveyors of produce that are deep and abiding, families who have generations of experience and care over the ingredients that make the menu.

All of this combines to create a Michelin-starred restaurant which punches high above the sole star it has been awarded. The best way to experience this is atto e’pull out’ chef’s table for two in the heart of the kitchen. Every station meanders over on an ad hoc basis to give you a taste, finished or in progress, of the dish they are responsible for that evening. The only way to experience this is through a tap on Alois’ shoulder. His name is a mouthful…wait until you try his food. Wonderment.