En route to a signature style

Marco Campanella

Marco Campanella, head chef at Eden Roc in Ascona and Tschuggen Grand Hotel in Arosa, has already proven that hard work leads to success. Now the 29-year-old wants all his menus to have a “common thread” running through them.

In 2018, when talented young chef Marco Campanella took over as head chef at Hotel Eden Roc’s gourmet restaurant La Brezza in Ascona, he said his primary objective was to deliver consistently high quality. That was scarcely three years ago, but he has already achieved that goal and much more besides. One of Ticino’s top chefs, Campanella trained under Andreas Caminada and has been awarded 17 GaultMillau points and a Michelin star.

Yet the aspirations of the warm and friendly 29-year-old native German, who has Italian roots but grew up on the northern shores of Lake Constance, go even further than winning such accolades. “I want to have a signature style that runs through my menus like a common thread,” he says. Developing their own culinary style is one of the hardest things for young chefs to do. When you first start out, you tend to replicate what you learnt from your mentors, says Campanella, “but I’m finding now that my own style is emerging more and more.”

Over time he has pared his cuisine down to the true essentials: “the dishes are more refined and the taste is more intense,” he believes. Marco Campanella relies heavily on sauces to pack flavour into his creations, but rather than choosing the traditional options of meat or fish stock as a base, he spends a lot of time making his own vegetarian jus. “We roast vegetables like carrots, celery, celeriac and leeks using the hot air mode on the V-ZUG steam cooker,” says Campanella, who finds that the smaller cooking space roasts the vegetables more evenly than the big commercial oven.

The chefs add cold water to the roasted vegetables, bring them to the boil, and then leave the stock to simmer for a day to release as many flavour molecules as possible. To make the jus, they sauté shallots, carrots and other vegetables, add wine, then add the stock and slowly reduce it all to create a rich vegetable concentrate. “For me, having a common thread running through the menu also means that every course should be special,” says Campanella. In addition he ensures that each dish incorporates an element of freshness, a very slightly tangy note of vinegar or citrus to make it pleasantly light. “Our guests should go home satisfied but not too full,” explains the chef.

That’s one of the reasons why fish features quite highly on Marco Campanella’s menu, and he uses the precise settings on the V-ZUG steam cooker to cook it gently to perfection. “For pike perch or cod we set the steam cooker to steam gently at 42 °C for 30 minutes, then we either pan-fry the fish or sear it with a bunsen burner so it has a core temperature of 46 to 47 °C and perfect juicy, translucent flesh.”

Marco Campanella became a chef because he wanted to know how to make pasta. His father always had pasta and risotto on the menu at his restaurant, he says, “and to this day those dishes make me feel at home.” Although his own style of cooking is rather more modern French than Italian, he still always incorporates a little “Italianità” into his menu by including a pasta dish: “If we serve something like poultry ravioli in poultry essence, then our guests will have fond memories of it.” Campanella’s style is characterized by such delightful little additions, and of course has that common thread which links up not just all the dishes served on a particular evening, but also everything the likeable chef creates.

More impressions in the video

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