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Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues Geneva

  • 33, Quai des Bergues, 1201 Geneva, Switzerland
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Marco Garfagnini

Executive Chef

“For me, it is not so much about where I am working but the people I am working with.”

Four Seasons Tenure

  • Since 2005
  • First Four Seasons Assignment: Current

Employment History

  • Ninan, Carrara, Tuscany, Italy; Coco Pazzo, New York and Cleveland, USA; Harry’s Bar, London, England; Il Carpaccio du Royal Monceau, Paris, France; Hilton Cavaleri, Rome, Italy

Birthplace

  • Carrara, Tuscany, Italy

Education

  • Placements at leading establishments, including Martin Berasategui’s three-Michelin-star restaurant, San Sebastian, Spain, and two-Michelin-star Juan Roca, Girona, Spain; Diploma di cuoco, Hotel School Massa-Carrara, Massa Italy

Languages Spoken

  • Italian, English and French

Only the opening of Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues Geneva succeeded in tempting Marco Garfagnini away from his Michelin-star restaurant, Ninan, in his native Tuscany. “Eight years after opening it, I needed a new challenge,” he says, though Garfagnini admits he wouldn’t have just gone anywhere.

Garfagnini was recruited for the position of executive chef by the Hotel’s general manager, Jose Silva, who visited Italy every second weekend for a whole summer seeking the right man for the job. Inspired by Silva’s sincerity and dedication, Garfagnini accepted the challenge. “Money has never motivated me,” he says. “People have.”

In Geneva, Garfagnini focuses on food “that is light enough for people to enjoy twice a day.” His Brittany lobster risotto is a must for any visitor to the city; using a half lobster and specially aged Carnaroli rice, it is cooked à la minute (when ordered) and takes 25 minutes of preparation. His pasta is equally impressive. His creative recipes (such as cheese tortelli scented with lemon and mint) use egg yolks in place of water “to make the pasta pliable and flavoursome and give it a deep golden tone that makes you hungry just looking at it.”

Garfagnini gained much of his experience abroad, returning to open Ninan in his hometown of Carrera with his wife in 1998. Just one year later, aged 29, he gained his first Michelin star, and in 2002 he was one of five finalists selected for the title of Best Chef in Italy (Gambero Rosso guide). In 2005, he was recognised as Young Italian Chef of the Year (Gambero Rosso guide).

When not in the kitchen, Garfagnini relaxes by fishing. His real passion, however, is music. He loves the blues and plays guitar and harmonica, writing songs for himself and jamming with friends. “I write Italian-style songs, but sing them in English,” he says. There was once a time when he would put all his spare money into attending concerts and increasing his sizeable CD collection. Now with three children, his focus has changed, though not entirely: “I’ve bought them Stratocasters, drums and harmonicas so far,” he says. “I’d love for them all to become musicians.”

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