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Marco Campanella & Mattias Roock

Marco Campanella: Head Chef Restaurant La Brezza, Hotel Eden Roc Ascona - Mattias Roock: Head Chef Restaurant Locanda Barbarossa, Hotel Castello del Sole.

Swiss Deluxe Hotels Stories Summer 2020 Marco Campanella & Mattias Roock 01 FI7A5907 Ecirgb

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

— 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. During my time in Hamburg, I used to participate in skat competitions. In the kitchen, I keep various statistics, and we always bet on how many plates of a given dish we will have to prepare in one day. Half board bingo, we call it.

— 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. I used to go straight to my parents’ restaurant after school. I made my first pizzas at the age of three. Later, I secretly made whipped cream for myself. Sometimes I managed up to half a litre at a time.

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

— 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. During my time in Hamburg, I used to participate in skat competitions. In the kitchen, I keep various statistics, and we always bet on how many plates of a given dish we will have to prepare in one day. Half board bingo, we call it.
— 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. I used to go straight to my parents’ restaurant after school. I made my first pizzas at the age of three. Later, I secretly made whipped cream for myself. Sometimes I managed up to half a litre at a time.

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. Also, I would find it hard to relax. I would be thinking about work all evening.
— MC: I agree with Mattias. At fine dining restaurants, I even turn over tableware and check their brand. Some would call this obsessive behaviour. But I am more than happy to enjoy bratwurst or pizza
at a simple restaurant, without giving them another – professional – thought. That way, my wife gets to enjoy her meal, as well. Instead of having to roll her eyes at me, because I cannot stop thinking about my job.

“We are friends
and help each other out
whenever we can.”

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. And I am grateful that he will always send over some extra mini cucumbers when I need them.
— 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. We know our guests will be happy when they come back. The more first-class gastronomy we have in one town, the better.

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. We have so many excellent products around here; farina bona, chèvre, and everything in between.

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. And for the nicest views in the area, I would send you to the Grotto Borei in Brissago. People enjoy brasato or risotto while letting their eyes wander over the lake and the surrounding mountains.
— MR: I like taking walks along the Maggia river – and picnics.
I have been to Tegna, it is a beautiful spot. When we go out for dinner, we choose a restaurant my daughter – a true ravioli expert, by the way – will like.

And where do we go for the best ravioli?

— MR: Well, her dad makes them, of course. But, she also was excited about the rabbit ravioli they served at a restaurant we went to recently. Being a fair dad, I did explain what was in the filling.
— MC: One of these days, you will have to take your daughter to
La Brezza. I am happy to accept the ravioli challenge!

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