Marco Sacco, from windsurfing to lake cooking

Magazine September 2019
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The chef patron of the Piccolo Lago restaurant, near Verbania, tells about his passion for the world of fresh water

Water is one of the four natural elements. Not only is it part of us, but it has the ability to give us emotions and feelings that are hard to find elsewhere. Marco Sacco, the chef of the two-star Michelin’s Piccolo Lago restaurant in Verbania, loved fresh water since childhood, when he spent most of his afternoons on the quiet shores of Lake Mergozzo.

“In the beginning my relationship with this element was only on the surface,” he explains as his mind navigates into the past. “Wind surfing was my first approach to water. Then, I started exploring the culinary environment: a new path opened in front of me. I discovered a beautiful underwater world: so I started researching freshwater fish. I wanted to think of the many recipes that could be made, trying to reinterpret the existing ones”. This passion for lake fish made him one of the leading experts in this field. When we ask him how he feels like when he works close to the water (or rather on the water), we immediately understand that he has an innate, natural, true bond.

This is why he created the “Associazione Gente di Lago e di Fiume”: the mission is to do continuous research and involve as many professionals as possible. However, he tells the difficulties that those who prepare lake dishes, just like him, may encounter. “I realized that compared to the sea fish, lake fish is difficult to find and to cook. It has no iodine: this is why it needs more attention during cooking”. In his dishes, the lake is the protagonist. “One dish is called Lingotto del Mergozzo: it starts from a marinated marble trout, then it is smoked. Another dish is the eel with double cooking, first grilled and then slowly finished over the fire”.

He turns his gaze to the restaurant and the beauty of the place. “We have remodelled these spaces so that the visitor can see and feel the local cuisine. We hide nothing. There is a garden where you can look out over the water and a gourmet boat: when you leave the dock you can have a picnic on the lake that becomes part of the restaurant and vice versa”.

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