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A Mathematician & a Footballer – two Head Chefs

Ticino star chefs Mattias Roock and Marco Campanella discuss secret talents, offer some surprising insights, and share valuable tips for holiday visitors.

What would you be today if you had you not devoted your life to be a chef?

left: Marco Campanella, right: Mattias Roock

MR: A mathematician. Or a fund manager, maybe. I love figures, and I am fascinated by the theory of probability. I can also imagine myself as a professional poker player.

MC: I don’t like figures all that much. I am more of a football person. I even played in the German U16 team before starting my apprenticeship. In the end, my passion for the culinary universe prevailed. Had I not trained as a chef, I would probably still be working as a waiter.

How often do star chefs dine at their colleagues’ restaurants?

MR: Very rarely during the season. If you prepare, arrange, and taste gourmet menus every day, you yearn for a simple meal every now and then.

MC: I agree with Mattias. At fine dining restaurants, I even turn over tableware and check their brand.

How much do you see of each other in your everyday work?

MC: We are friends and help each other out whenever we can. When Mattias runs out of nitrogen, for instance, he is more than welcome to borrow a bottle from our kitchen.

MR: Marco and I don’t see each other as opponents. And I am convinced we don’t need to. When a guest spends a two-week holiday at the Castello, I am more than happy to send him to the Eden Roc for dinner every once in a while. And Marco will do the same.

How much Ticino is in your menus?

MR: As much as possible. With the exception of meat, fish and cheese, our “Sapori del nostro orto” menu solely consists of ingredients that are grown either in the garden of the Castello del Sole or on our farm, Terreni alla Maggia.

MC: As head chef in a luxury hotel, I cannot – and do not want to – make do without luxury products, such as turbot or lobster. But most of the components of our dishes are local, if the season is right.

Be our tour guides: What are your favourite spots in the Ascona area?

MC: I recommend going to Tegna, a small village in Vallemaggia with a wonderful swimming spot. Between June and July, before the summer holidays, the place is still empty and quiet. All you will hear is the rushing water.

MR: I like taking walks along the Maggia river – and picnics. I have been to Tegna, it is a beautiful spot.

And where do we go for the best ravioli?

MR: Well, her dad makes them, of course.

MC: One of these days, you will have to take your daughter to La Brezza. I am happy to accept the ravioli challenge!

words by Alex Kühn, photos by Nico Schaerer

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