It is safe to say that fine dining is among those experiences that stimulate all the senses. It goes far beyond just eating. If you have ever delighted in the celebrations of a birthday, promotion or anniversary, an enhanced culinary experience heightens the enjoyment. And meanwhile, behind the scenes, the restaurant team has considered all the aspects: the sounds, the smells, the smallest of details, down to how your meal is plated, and the shape and arrangement of the cutlery.
Perhaps the greatest contributors to this occasion are the Chefs, who coordinate, moment by moment, each course that is served. And when you encounter a Chef who takes such great pride in delivering the best experience possible, you begin to appreciate the art and commitment of their craft.
When I first met with Chef Francesco Maganuco at Crystal Hotel in St Moritz, it became clear how devoted he is to his work. He is entirely consumed with the achievement of perfection in every aspect of his practice. His Sicilian background has inspired in him a fidelity to the creation of art and beauty.
“When the guest sits at the table he sits not only to eat but to make a gastronomic journey. Every aspect is part of the sensory experience, not just the food and wine’.
Maganuco named a Knight to the order of Chaine des Rotisseurs is no stranger to the pressures and rigour that come with working in a high-end restaurant, having worked in some of the top restaurants in Lake Como, Italy, including Villa d’Este, Grand Hotel Tremezzo and the 2 Michelin star Aldrovandi Villa Borghese in Rome. With this level of achievement comes a complex combination of time management, people management, and stress management skills that require a great deal of mental acuity. The luxury experience is always about the delivery of the absolute best: best experience, best visuals, best reputation, best quality, and best wine pairings.
Chaine de Rotisseurs is a highly esteemed and historic organization that can be traced back as far as 1248. Its history is royal, originally based on the traditions and practice of the old French guild and was revived in Paris in 1950. Maganuco was referred by an existing member in 2019, which is a highly complementary designation from within a collective group of people dedicated to a focus on creating art. In essence, they maintain a quality standard of gastronomic values shared by members from around the world.
With this mantle of responsibility, and in being named to such a high order of accomplished Chefs, Maganuco has found that meditation has been an important element to unlocking focus and creativity in his work. In fact, this spiritual journey has become something of a differentiator for him, much like Eric Ripert, a French chef, and owner of Le Bernadin in New York City. Previously frustrated by the stresses of the kitchen, Ripert credits his calm and compassionate demeanour to meditation.
In a fast-paced and high-stress environment, working together as a cohesive team is essential to creating the ideal dish and customer experience. Maganuco has found that the practice of meditation has helped him to maintain a deep sense of humility while still leading a talented group of cooks and support staff in the Crystal kitchen as well. And truly, the tasting menu that they created was fantastic. With the support of Angelo Cantarelli and the collaboration of Chef Alessandro Da Como, what followed was a brilliant seven-course dining experience culminating in the most delightful dessert of Apple Cake with Apple Brunoise, made with cream and vanilla ice.
The two accompanying bottles of Perrier Jouet Champagne might have been enough sweetness for the pairing, but the Apple Cake was the crowning joy of the journey. Along the way Angelo was lovely to chat with as he described the wine he selected, and the ingredients of the courses as they arrived.
It would be well worth your while to visit Grissini Restaurant while in St Moritz for this dining experience, and the Crystal Hotel Chefs team will no doubt welcome you with the same enthusiasm that they afforded me on my visit.