The neighbourhood chef
A native of Italy, Stefano Corrado does his cooking near Zurich's Milchbuck, away from the bustle of the city. He has made a name for himself all the same, wowing neighbours and gourmets alike with his Mediterranean-style cuisine.
Stefano Corrado stands in the kitchen of his restaurant «Anna» and ponders how to plate up. «I’m not entirely happy yet,» he says. He wants the green and yellow beans all to be exactly the same length, and the peas a brighter green. Though easy-going, the chef clearly has a perfectionist streak. «Anna» is a neighbourhood eatery, and Stefano cooks in the Italian-Mediterranean tradition, using only premium products and making no compromises on the plate. His efforts have earned him 14 Gault-Millau points.
Stefano has been cooking at «Anna» for two years. The restaurant is not located in Zurich's hip Kreis 3 district, nor in the cosmopolitan Kreis 1. The Milchbuck neighbourhood is known for Irchel Park, the Allenmoos outdoor swimming pool and the traffic jam in Bucheggstrasse. Not so much for its culinary attractions. Still, many gourmets find their way up the knoll known as Milchbuck. After all, Stefano Corrado has made a name for himself. Always at his side: Maria Ventola, whose warm welcome puts guests instantly at their ease.
Maria and Stefano started out in spring 2020. «I always imagined having my own restaurant. But of course, there's the fear of empty tables,» Stefano freely admits. A fear that turned out to be unfounded. Word gets around quickly that something is afoot in the neighbourhood. Not least thanks to Antonio Colaianni, Stefano's former boss, who beats the drum for them, sending his guests to «Anna» and spreading the word. «We really owe him a lot,» says Stefano. Incidentally, the chef with 17 points to his name now also lives in the neighbourhood.
I always imagined having my own restaurant. But of course, there's the fear of empty tables
Meanwhile, Stefano is preparing the carne cruda. «I use a shoulder cut of Piedmontese Fassone beef. It's not easy to come by, so the dish is simply available until it's all gone.» He applies a basic seasoning before arranging the meat in layers on several large lettuce leaves. It is served with a light vinaigrette, hazelnuts from the Piedmont and a generous shaving of summer truffles.
Stefano Corrado was raised in Italy, his family being from Calabria. He grew up in a village «way down south». When he reflects on his first food-related memories, he sees in his mind’s eye an incredibly long table where what felt like a hundred people gathered to eat. «I had a classic Italian childhood. Everyone came together for meals, including aunts and uncles. Lunch was pasta with tomato sauce every day, followed by salads and meat.» His parents emigrated to Switzerland when he was seven years old, settling first in Truns, then in Chur. He first stepped into a professional kitchen at Padrutt's Palace in St. Moritz. «My father discouraged me from training to become a construction worker. He said the work was too hard. So I became a chef instead» Stefano laughs.
His years of apprenticeship saw him cooking with the likes of Marcus G. Lindner or Domenico Miggiano at the «Löwen» in Bubikon. He opened «Clouds» together with Antonio Colaianni and worked for him at «Mesa» as well. He was employed at «Aurora» before going it alone. The trendy eatery wasn't quite his cup of tea. Still, he has fond memories of his time there: «It's where I met Maria».
«Anna» is open at midday as well. Stefano keeps the lunch dishes simple. Always on the menu are his signature Tortelli di Vitello. «We don’t really serve them for dinner. But guests who know them order them anyway». In the evenings, diners choose four to six courses from the menu. «We recommend that guests let us surprise them. Most people are game.» Pasta is served in the evenings, too – fresh farfalle with courgette and burrata. The beans of identical length mentioned earlier end up topping an Appenzell dry-aged duck from Luma, served with a touch of Tropea onion puree. «I don’t like to crowd my plates.» Less, after all, is more. But it has to be perfect.
Text: Kathia Baltisberger, Photos: Ellin Anderegg
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