Over the course of 2022, we were reminded time and time again that the most important part of a travel experience is the people. Distinctive architecture, stylish interior design and lavish amenities are all worthy attributes, but no hotel or restaurant receives an Andrew Harper recommendation without having staff members who are warm, efficient and sincere. Providing this sort of service in the current circumstances is more difficult than usual, with many properties still struggling with labor shortages. Nevertheless, we encountered numerous exceptional individuals who rose to the occasion.
Chef of the Year: Marco Sacco
Piccolo Lago & Il Verbano, Lakes Mergozzo and Maggiore, Italy
Chef Marco Sacco’s Michelin two-star restaurant, Piccolo Lago, has floor-to-ceiling windows facing Mergozzo, a little beauty of an Italian lake that almost connects with Lake Maggiore. The food lived up to the setting. Presentations were ostensibly simple, but preparations were complex, resulting in dishes both refined and soulful (and I give kudos to any tasting menu that includes two pasta courses). His more casual new restaurant on touristy Isola dei Pescatori in Lake Maggiore, Il Verbano, served us a superlative four-course lunch on a leafy terrace with views of the baroque palace on Isola Bella. With its scenic location, Il Verbano need only be passable, but Sacco’s unfussy yet flawless cuisine consistently impressed.