I came to cooking after 10 years of working alongside my husband Angelo, who had owned, since 1970, a starred restaurant at Borgomanero. When we bought Al Sorriso, I found myself in the kitchens by happenstance as our chef suddenly returned to Switzerland in 1981. I very quickly became passionate about cooking and through working I started to feel the desire to express myself more fully. I had studied for a university degree but I had never had any cookery classes nor any training in a restaurant. As I had a family to look after I had to learn under my own steam by immersing myself in the literature. My friends provided encouragement, especially the Swiss chef Angelo Conti Rossini. During my early experiences as a customer of Frédy Girardet, Georges Blanc,, Bernard Pacaud and Jacques Pic, I discovered that truly passionate chefs could turn cuisine into a veritable art. We won one, then two and finally three stars as well as several international awards. But joining Relais & Châteaux has introduced us to a new world.My cuisine is traditional, reinvented for its times, with a close eye on how modern tastes are changing.
In the spring we make pigeon with herbs, asparagus, peas and cherries. In the summer, we cook the different parts separately with peas, walnuts, cèpe mushrooms and foie gras, and in the fall with Alba white truffles.
We buy large one-pound pigeons from a small farm in Tuscany. The meat of the hens is especially tender.
I remember having pigeons on the table when I was a young boy — baby squab that hadn’t started growing feathers yet.