It happened in the summer of 2012: years in the stressful restaurant business caught up with the acclaimed chef Peter Dosot. His job had always been both his passion and his calling, but he was beginning to feel like a manager rather than a culinary artist. “My work was restricted to fixing minor details at the end,” he reflects.
Time-out in his mother’s home, the serene Ligurian countryside, prevented a full-blown identity crisis and then everything happened in a flurry. In a ‘sought out coincidence’, the romantic Casa della Rocca in Dolcedo close to Imperia stood vacant. The Swiss-born chef felt inspired to go back to his roots; he wanted to pursue his culinary creativity on his own terms, free from all external pressure. He turned his vision into a modern and - as time would tell - successful strategy.
Dosot already practiced in 2012 what many celebrate as the latest in modern cuisine today. He himself cooks for around 30 guests, saying, “They should feel like I’m there just for them!” Every day, except Monday, he offers a set six-course menu for 39 euros beginning at 8pm - reservations are strongly recommended.
The master chef knew he had found the ideal concept, despite critics urging him to give his guests more of a choice. Dosot politely ignored their advice. “Yes,” he says with a cheeky grin on his face, “I know the guests don’t get much of a say. I determine when they come, what and how much they eat.” But exactly this is what many enjoy, especially considering that today we are forced to make hundreds of little decisions throughout the day in a more and more complex world. Upon entering Casa della Rocca, guests hand them over to Dosot. They trust him to spoil them. Just as a symphony’s various sections are perfectly balanced to create a great piece of music, the daily-changing menu blends into a well-rounded taste experience.
His one-menu-philosophy enables Dosot to pick the freshest, most seasonal and best regional ingredients every day. He does the shopping himself, striving for the highest quality, while also keeping an eye on sustainability. Quality seals, he thinks, are all well and good, but more than anything he trusts his personal judgement.
Modern Swiss cuisine is the foundation for his style, topped with international experience and Mediterranean ease. With time, a close circle of friends and regulars formed around Peter Dosot. While newcomers fell in love with his restaurant straight away, Italians needed a bit more swaying, he admits. By now, he draws in guests from Bordighera to Sanremo, Turin to Milan and all the way to Bergamo.
He consciously follows his philosophy of what makes good cooking: recipes, products and personal preparation are all equally important.
And as he works his magic in the kitchen, guests can watch from the restaurant - all while Tina Dosot caters to all their needs. The trained journalist kindly explains the menu and helps to choose the right wine. The wine list mainly comprises bottles from vineyards across Liguria and Piedmont, which the Dosots have visited personally.
They do without fancy modern wines and ‘excessive’ decoration: “We want to offer enjoyment without bells and whistles,” Tina Dosot says.
In winter, guests are seated in a historic vault still reminiscent of the former oil mill and the laid-open cliffs. In summer, they can sit outside enjoy the romantic view.
For those who want to delve deeper into Peter Dosot’s cooking philosophy, he offers events where they can look over his shoulder as he cooks. These are held in winter only in the Frantoia Benza’s nearby Agroturismo. To round off a day well-spent, everyone gathers around a long table to eat, drink and be merry.