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Best of S.Pellegrino Sapori Ticino 2022

Beatrice Lessi

Ticino Stars

Ticino is the southern part of Switzerland everybody loves for being so charmingly Italian, but at the same time still safely anchored in Switzerland.

With so many Michelin-starred chefs, spectacular locations and five-stars hotels involved in the S.Pellegrino Sapori Ticino gourmet festival, it’s hard to decide which events were the best this year. I attended three of them (they were twenty-one in total), therefore I am going to report about them. They are the best anyway – I am objective (smile)!

What Is S.Pellegrino Sapori Ticino

S.Pellegrino Sapori Ticino is a Swiss event dedicated to Haute Cuisine. Each year, it welcomes the best chefs on the international scene and asks them to cook with cherry-picked ticinesi chefs.

This is exactly one of its most interesting aspects: watching how chefs interact together, wear their uniforms winding each other up, get ready for the customary picture while joking and laughing, and then all of a sudden sharply focus to perform a high precision team work…all this is a big part of the pleasure of attending. Backstage work is often visible and one can feel its vibes. I think I learn something new about food and its art every year.

La Réserve Eden Au Lac

The first evening I attended was in Zurich, at the imaginary yacht club entirely designed by Philippe Starck, La Réserve Eden au Lac. There I am really the happiest person on earth and not objective, because I have a crush on its mostly Italian team (chefs and service), and above all on Marco Ortolani, who had been awarded a Michelin star just one week before the event. For that reason, the vibes were even higher than usual. One could feel the electricity of the kitchen, that is by the way completely open and looking fantastic with its bright colors. Marco cooked a fabulous meal with Alessandro Boleso (chef at Grand Hotel Villa Castagnola in Lugano), Davide Asietti (Blu Restaurant and Lounge in Locarno) and Marco Badalucci (A Taste of Art restaurant, Lugano).

Fairmont Le Montreux Palace

The following dinner I attended was surrounded by palm trees on the sunny Swiss Riviera, along the shores of lake Geneva, in the grand atmosphere of Fairmont Le Montreux Palace.

Resident chef Frédéric Gardette prepared an outstanding dinner together with Domenico Ruberto of I Due Sud restaurant in Hotel Splendide Lugano, Luca Bellanca of Ristorante Meta in Lugano, Marco Badalucci of Badalucci Taste of Art in Lugano, and Riccardo Scamarcio of Villa Orselina.

The sheer size of the ballroom where we ate,  the Belle Époque building and the heritage of the Palace made this dinner a bit more formal than the preceding one. But Dany Stauffacher, the founder of S.Pellegrino Sapori Ticino, is always playing a little trick (like ordering all the men to stand up while women sit, or making a toast to some fun subjects) so guests relax and fully enjoy the event.

Mandarin Oriental Luzern

My gran finale was on the recently renovated (just completed after three years of work) Mandarin Oriental in Lucerne. Chef Gilad Peled cooked with Nicola Leanza of Restaurant Seven, Ascona ,Andrea Bertarini of Ristorante Montalbano, Stabio, Diego della Schiava of The View Lugano, and Andrea Pedrina of La Dispensa, Lugano.

I couldn’t believe the kitchen was so new, because the team looked smooth-running and extremely at ease. I expected Gilad Peled to be a bit of a star (well…he is), but he simply looked like a very young guy enjoying his work and the people around him.

As usual, the images of the dishes speak better than words. My personal favourite was dessert, a lemony tartellette served with olive oil.

Bringing Ticino with its italianità around Switzerland to show its full potential and join forces with the best of the best is a complex process, that requires a lot of preparation and commitment from everybody working around it. I always try to arrive early and look at some of the final preparations, and there are a lot of people involved who surprise me every time for the amount of work they are doing.

S.Pellegrino Sapori Ticino reached its 16th edition and it’s still surprising even the most seasoned food journalist. Personally I think the industry and  level of cooking have dramatically improved in recent years and the bar is higher and higher.

The cover picture  of this blogpost shows a moment of enthusiasm – me throwing myself at the chefs, and luckily landing safely. I did mean I loved the atmosphere!

Photos: Giorgia Panzera

All my outfits are by Premium Secondhand

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