Story: Art at table

International cuisine

Frank Oerthle presents gourmet works of art at the Galleria Arté al Lago restaurant overlooking Lake Lugano.

Born in Germany, he moved to Ticino in 1993. His career began here at the Hotel Giardino in Ascona, before he moved to Lugano in 1999, where he worked as sous-chef alongside head chef René Nagy at Le Relais in Villa Castagnola. In 2001, Frank Oerthle became head chef at the Galleria Arté al Lago restaurant and has been in the kitchen ever since, assisted by his young and talented team.


Frank Oerthle, Head Chef of Galleria Arté al Lago restaurant

Frank Oerthle, Head Chef of Galleria Arté al Lago restaurant
Nothing is thrown away in my kitchen, not even the stock!

16 Gault&Millau points and a special location just a short distance from the Grand Hotel Villa Castagnola in Lugano. An art gallery transformed into the Galleria Arté al Lago restaurant, the pride and joy of Villa Castagnola. An exclusive venue decorated with real artworks by international artists, featuring themed exhibitions accompanied by delicious, creative and subtle dishes, primarily using fresh and saltwater fish. 

An artist in the kitchen for over 25 years, Frank Oerthle, who learned Italian in just 2 years, welcomes us into his kingdom, where the aromas of his creations begin to fill the air as he cooks with a smile on his face. It’s almost midday and the whole team are hard at work preparing the lunch menu. The guests are arriving and a slight clatter of pans and hobs can be heard from the kitchen. 

Organisation and preparation are two key factors in his work, but cleanliness is also extremely important in a professional environment. According to Oerthle, experience also helps and teaches him to reduce waste in the kitchen. In fact, nothing is thrown away here: the stock can be reused, pasta dough left over from making ravioli can be transformed into tagliolini, while meat and fish are both cooked to order. 

Although there’s no shortage of practicality, the most important thing is that the aromas of his ingredients can be perceived in the dish. Because of this, the cooking process sometimes takes several hours.

Dishes selected and prepared with care and precision, sometimes featuring flavours from Ticino, but primarily international in tasted.

We need to be patient if we want a tasty dish. Good food takes time!

The products are always fresh and the pasta is so fine it dissolves in the mouth. These are some of the secrets of the cuisine of the chef at the Galleria Arté al Lago restaurant when it comes to creating a menu with contrasting flavours.
From the simplest to the most difficult and complex recipes, for dishes that could withstand an art critic,
such as the "Bottoni" of peas cream and lobster morsels.

But where does the great chef get his inspiration? Depending on the products in season, taking a little look at what colleagues are doing, “sometimes ideas come to me when cycling around Ticino, and other times as soon as I wake in the morning.” In short, it’s a bit of a mix. However, the most important phase is sharing everything with the team. “The imagination is huge and this is where the best creations come from.” And even if times are hard and restaurants are closed, Oerthle doesn’t lose heart.  

“During lockdown I spent a couple of days helping some farmers harvest their vegetables on the Magadino Plain.” 

“The best typical cuisine in Ticino can be savoured in the region’s grottos.” 

Pro tip
The Grand Hotel Villa Castagnola has been welcoming its guests in a period home with views over Monte San Salvatore for more than 130 years. It houses 3 restaurants, offering a unique gourmet experience.
Just a short distance away is Monte Brè, where the home of the major Swiss artist Wilhelm Schmid, who died 50 years ago, displays works spanning his artistic career. Keen walkers should not miss out on the Olive Path in Gandria.
For those who love to look at unique panoramas such as the picturesque villages on the shores of the lake from an unusual and particularly attractive angle, a cruise on Lake Lugano is an ideal activity.