Born with the gift of creativity, Sandra Defanti became a chef and hotelier thanks to two loves—of her husband Cesare and of cooking itself. A tireless source of new ideas, there’s no risk of being bored at her table, and plenty of opportunities for learning.
Nestled in Switzerland’s Leventina Valley, the historic hotel where Sandra works has been in her husband’s family since 1903. Over the last decade she has been organizing a series of creative gastronomic initiatives here, transforming themed menus into emotion-inspiring experiences. Tradition is, of course, ever-present, as is a focus on seasonality and the quality of ingredients, with dishes prepared with meticulous attention to detail.
Many of the products she uses, in accordance with the guidelines of the Slow Food Cooks’ Alliance, of which she is a member, come directly from her kitchen garden. Here she also grows aromatic herbs and edible flowers, used from June to November.
“One of my favorite ingredients is farina bòna from Ticino,” she told us. “I use it in particular in any béchamel-based preparations because the corn flour gives an unusual flavor and a magnificent golden color to the finished dish. My recipe is for Crème au Gingembre, one of my signature dishes.”
70 g mountain butter
45 g type-00 plain flour
30 g farina bòna from Ticino
1.2 l water
25 g broth
20 g turmeric
20 g coconut milk powder
60 g grated fresh ginger
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan, then stir in the flour and the farina bòna and continue cooking for 2 minutes. Add the water and broth. Cook for 10 minutes over low heat, stirring often, then add turmeric, coconut milk powder and ginger and continue cooking until thickened.
If desired, add a little cream (50-60 g) before serving.