It was a foretold success. The arrival of chef Gaggan Anand at S.Pellegrino Sapori Ticino 2015, who flew to Switzerland directly from Bangkok, forced the organizers to repeat the evening due to overbooking. Among the best known and acclaimed chefs of the entire Asian continent, ranked this year's tenth place in the World's 50 Best Restaurants and widely regarded as one of the greatest figures in Indian cuisine was guest chef Egidio Iadonisi of the Swiss Diamond Hotel in Vico Morcote during one of eight dinners that brought some of the best international chefs to Canton Ticino.
It's a suggestive dinner prepared by four hands, for which more than helping his colleague in the kitchen, the chef from Ticino gave him support in the delicate task of obtaining all of the raw materials needed by drawing on Canton Ticino's rich natural resources. In addition to being a star in the kitchen, Gaggan also proved to be an ironic entertainer with a sense of humor, such as to pass between the tables and declare, "Here in Switzerland I've had the best: I've never found such high quality lamb." Herbs, fruits and vegetables also arrived from the Ticino hillside.
"It's been exciting to work together," said host chef Egidio Iadonisi. "When Gaggan sent me a list from Thailand of required ingredients I had a startle: 5 kilograms of red pepper and 4 kilograms of garlic. The first operation as regards dinner was to soften the flavors and adapt them to Western tastes." The result is a sequence that is perfectly calibrated for any palate. The dinner has an oriental structure, with a long series of delectable mini-course: this is what Gaggan offers to start dinner with. "A cuisine that comes from the other side of the world cannot always be understood. The important thing is never to be biased, and just let yourself go. If you do not understand all of my dishes, don't worry - maybe you'll like the next one. My cooking is relaxation, fun and amazement. It's surprising and imaginative."
After the "papadam", rice chips, is spicy chocolate bomb: it's a white, buttery ball filled with a liquid with spicy and sour notes that are as piercing as a soprano's voice. In a gastro-cultural mix, the two dishes created specially for dinner are the "Bird's Nests" and "Ticino Fusion Flavors". The first is a tartlet made of twisted strands of pasta that are fried and shaped into a nest, a clear reference to the Cantonese rosti. The second is a tribute to Dionisi Egidio's Neapolitan roots: the sfogliatella. But instead of a custard filling, the usually sweet dish is offered is with a filling of foie gras. Next is what appears to be a black potato cooked on a barbecue, called "Coal. Be Surprised", which is actually a giant sea bass meatball flavored with chervil, cumin and other spices.
"Mom's Mutton Curry" is perhaps the most challenging dish in the spicy category, while the most conceptual from a technical standpoint, with quotes to Ferran Adrià (Gaggan worked at Bulli for six months), is "Magic Mushroom", a composition made from stuffed wild mushrooms and the bark of tree trunk that magically tastes of Morels, bell peppers and truffle. The most unusual item on the menu? An innocuous plastic bag with a greenish powder inside. It's an innocent play on food that turns out to be made from a potato peel treated until it becomes transparent, to contain a mix of spicy nuts.