This year marks the 9th edition of the San. Pellegrino Sapori Ticino gourmet festival. As the culinary festivities continuewith the help ofthe leading Ticino 5-star hotels and restaurants, we see some of the best chefs fromItalian-speaking Switzerland come together to showcase their finest gastronomic creations. One of the chefs invited to take part was of course twoMichelin star Chef,Mauro Colagreco, theItalo-Argentinian owner of Mirazur restaurantin Menton, on the Côte d’Azur.

FOUR speaks to Mauro about the Sapori Ticino event and the success ofhis guest takeover of the kitchens of Chef Salvatore Frequente, from Eden Roc Hotel, Ascona.

Tell us a bit about S. Pellegrino Sapori 2015…

It was a great experience to share the kitchen with Salvatore Frequente for the 4 hands dinner in at the Hotel Eden Roc, in Ascona. And of course, an honour to make part of the excellent group of Chefs participating as well in this event

What can guests expect from the event?

I think that guests can expect a unique experience, enjoying really high quality menus while surrounded by the beautiful Swiss mountains and lakes

What does participating in the S.Pellegrino Sapori Ticino 2015 presents“World’s Top Chefs”, mean to you?

It is an honour to be recognized as such and to be working along with people I admire.

What are your earliest memories of being interested in food?

Cooking with my grandmother Amalia. She immigrated in Argentina during the war but she’d had always keep an italian love while cooking for the family parties. As I was the youngest one, she used to take me with her into the kitchen to help her doing the fresh past and tomatoes sauce.

In terms of your cooking, what would you say has been your biggestinspiration?

I love to work with local products and I have always loved gardens. You can see the products growing up and it turns into something beautiful and inspiring. I have created my own garden and I have also searched for local products and small producers that could feet in my expectations and inspiration for creating a dish

Describe how you see your own culinary style and how it has evolved over theyears…

When you open a restaurant for the first time you have lots of ideas and you want to do lots of different things. But then you start understanding that it takes time, weeks, months, maybe years – it depends of each person – to really findyourtype of kitchen and to put all your ideas together into something coherent. A few years ago, I realized I couldn’t deny my argentinian roots neither the influence of all my trips around the world. When I recognized that I could put all this together, and reveal my passion for local products and gardens through my dishes, I started to do my own personal cuisine, characterized for being between the sea, the mountain and the garden.

What are your most indispensable ingredients?

Garlic, onion, olive oil and spices – with these ingredients you can transform and give flavour to any product. It is magic!

What do you gain as a chef from having collaborations such as this one?

I believe that we always learn something new when we exchange with other people. It can be with other colleagues from work, people with a different career or even with clients. It gives us ideas and motivation. I love sharing thoughts with people in general and I think is one of best things in our profession.

What would you say has been the most memorable moment in your culinarycareer so far?

Having been chosen by the French Minister of Culture for theOrdre des Arts et des Lettres(Order of Arts and Letters). What a great honour and an unforgettable moment.

What’s next for you?

I am now working to reach the 3rd start. But the most important to me is to make every clients having a real experience of flavours and textures, like a trip into my world, between mountains, sea and my garden. I aspire to the sublimation of products: you see them simple but we make people eat them with a new perspective.

What restaurant is currently at the top of your list to dine at?

When I travel, either for work or pleasure, I like to visit Chef friends and to discover their kitchen. But at a daily basis, I eat very simple and I really enjoy homemade food, like what you can find in a small restaurant that I know in Menton or on the Italian side:La viecchia Ostaia(San Biaggio de la Cima) andL’ô à la Bouchein Menton. Delicious!

Find out more information about Mauro and Mirazur here |www.maurocolagreco.com