Making the move from the tropical Maldives to the cultural heart of Japan, Giovanni Battista D’Alessandro joins Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto as Director of Food & Beverage and Culinary Operations. His appointment marks the start of an exciting new chapter, being the first leadership change in the Food and Beverage division since the Hotel’s opening in 2016.
Hailing from the coastal region of Sicily, Gianni (as he prefers to be called) brings with him an Italian warmth and energy, along with extensive global experience with top-tier luxury brands – the perfect combination to usher in a new era of food and beverage at the Hotel.
“Hospitality is in my blood,” he says with a smile. “My love of hosting comes from my family and my community.” While growing up, young Gianni loved the crackling energy of people cooking, eating, talking and laughing together – “sharing all the good things of life.”
He now seeks to recreate a similar joyfulness around gastronomy at Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto. Along with overseeing Catering, Weddings and In-Room Dining, Gianni is in charge of three outlets, each one offering spectacular views of Shakusui-en, the Hotel’s 800-year-old pond garden.
A favourite among guests and local residents alike, the Brasserie serves relaxed seasonal fare in picturesque light-filled interiors, complemented by an open-air pondside terrace. The Lounge & Bar offers artisanal coffees and chic cocktails, with an exclusive five-seater bar revealed only after dark. Fuju lounge, the Sukiya-style teahouse, is framed by views of koi fish, turtles and ducks swimming in the pond. Come nightfall, guests can sip local sake or Champagne as they gaze out at the play of moonlit reflections on the water.
These incredible settings are unrivalled among hotels in Kyoto – and Gianni plans to make the most of them by expanding the alfresco dining program at Four Seasons. “Whether you’re here for a Japanese tea ceremony, a celebration dinner or just a relaxed brunch, the unique ambience offered by our pond garden elevates each experience,” he explains. “You feel deeply connected to the beauty of Kyoto’s nature, history and culture.”
In-house guests and the local community can look forward to a new calendar of lively, sociable experiences that sit effortlessly within the historical character of the property. As Gianni notes, “At Four Seasons, our expertise lies in crafting locally rooted experiences with an international flair.”
With a diploma in hospitality from Italy, Gianni began his career at an independent restaurant in Paris, then honed his skills at five-star hotel kitchens in Geneva. In 2008, he moved to Australia for an intensive stint in molecular gastronomy, followed by chef de duisine roles in Switzerland and India. He then moved to China, where he worked with a number of leading luxury hotels, including Four Seasons Hotel Shenzhen, and rapidly worked his way up to Executive Chef. Most recently, he served as Director of Food & Beverage at Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa.
Working across eight different destinations, what is the most important lesson he has learned? “To invest enough time in understanding a new culture. This opens your mind and paves the way for valuable human connection and cultural exchange. Otherwise you will have the same journey everywhere, just with different décor!”
Now, living in Kyoto for the first time, Gianni loves to explore his surroundings through food and drink, whether visiting local ramen shops or tracking down the most legendary kaiseki in town. The city’s atmospheric bars are also on his itinerary. Along with good wine – “part of my Italian heritage” – his go-tos are cocktails and craft gins.