The annual appointment is at a gigantic igloo with transparent walls, right at the Gran Risa mountain's feet, in Northern Italy, the same as the great slalom and the World Cup. Everything is ready for the cooking show by S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna in Alta Val Badia: it involves an event of the Chef's Cup 2014, one which asks eight international chefs to cook in high altitudes.
Everything is set for the international cooking event in the Dolomites. We take a quick look at the evening's menu and decide which dish we should try first. We pick Argentinian chef Adrian Quetglas' - chef at The Sad restaurant, Moscow - dish. He is the one responsible for giving ancient regime Russian cuisine new allure. His dish is one of the most complicated ones on the menu, but, it doesn't fail giving you a touch of lightness and unexpected freshness. It's a crusty Nori algae holding inside an Atlantic trout tartare and a fake quail egg made of coconut milk, tainted in gold, less de facto than a simple egg yolk, with aromatic herbs and lime. All served on a tree trunk. A dish that qualifies for everything: technique, inventiveness, personality.
Chef Adrian Quetglas and the dish he signed
A few spots down you find Philip Sajler of Prague's Perfect Catering at work: the chef, a true star in the Czech Republic, he presented his city's symbolic ingredient - Prague's ham - and served with a mille feuilles and a horseradish, pickled mousse, a ragout of red turnips in a mustard vinaigrette dressing. Going to another stand, we find Jefferson Rueda of Attimo restaurant in San Paolo, Brazil. The chef is absorbed in making a dark cream in different bowls: it's the chicken cous cous with a julienne of Brazilian heart palms. One the night's favorites.
From left to right: chef Philip Sajler, chef Jefferson Rueda and the dish he signed
We continue to chef Ondrej Slanina of Chateau St. Havel Hotel restaurant. He goes for Nordic accents: he lays the smoked trout filets carefully over a puree of celery while his sous-chef adds a dill and root foam baked in the oven. There is a lot of discussion around Belgian chef Wout Bru's, Chez Bru in Eygalières, France, dish. His decision to serve toasted crostini with pigeon giblets on a paté version is courageous: it's a straightforward dish, either you love it, either you hate it. It's like a "gunshot" in the mouth soothed by cardamom and a puree of potatoes in olive oil: true high cuisine. Tomaz Kavcic, chef at Pri Lojzetu restaurant in Vipava (Slovenia), prepared a Ginepro Tonic.
From left to right: chef Ondrej Slanina, chef Tomaz Kavcic and his Ginepro Tonic
Still missing to this list are the two Italian chefs: one is Filippo La Mantia who just opened his namesake restaurant in Rome. He went for pasta: a split spaghetti in macco di fave, almost like a soup with crusty speck pieces on top. Topped with lime for a touch of freshness. The second Italian chef, Francesco Mazzei, wraps up the cooking show with a great enterprise. The chef from Calabria is now a rising star of London's culinary scene. He surprises everyone with a dish that revolves around his favorite ingredient, one that has changed his life: ”'Nduja”, a spread of cold cut, very spicy and typical of his region of Calabria. Mazzei discretely presents the ingredient on a fish soup with "fregola", a typical small buckwheat pasta.
Chef Filippo La Mantia (right) together with Giancarlo Morelli, one of the event promoting chefs
Italian chef Francesco Mazzei and his dish
Norbert Niederkofler, the mastermind behind the event, is satisfied: "The exchange between different cultures is positive, this is the theme we tried to stress, and chefs tried to interpret it using their own land and South Tyrol with different ingredients. This is the spirit of the Chef's Cup."