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The Dolomites of Alta Badia have welcomed the tenth edition of one of the most eagerly awaited international haute cuisine events: the Chef’s Cup, a week that combines skiing and haute cuisine, sponsored by S.Pellegrino. Chef Norbert Niederkofler played host to 50 visiting chefs from all over the world: all of them changed out of ski boots and into work gear and toques several times a day as they alternated cooking shows with antics on the ski slopes. This year, we wish to report on the Chef’s Cup through its true protagonists, the ingredients used in the dishes of six days’ cooking sessions, which drew to a magnificent conclusion with a theme dinner entitled S. Pellegrino welcomes the world to Italy.
If we had to award a prize to the most curious ingredient, it would certainly go to pineapple guava, a fruit that comes from Brazil but has also caught on well in Italy and some regions of the former Soviet Union. It has a dark green peel and tiny seeds inside with an aroma similar to pineapple and a slightly sharp taste. It made its appearance in a dish presented by the twins Ivan and Sergey Berezutskiy of the newly opened Twins restaurant in Moscow, and which aroused no end of interest. Ivan and Sergey used it in a recipe ironically dubbed “letter from Russia”. And this dish is all that its name promises: enfolded in letter headed food wrapping paper, complete with sender’s name and address, it contains scallops (carried by the twins all the way from Moscow in a suitcase), slices of pineapple guava and grains of couscous, all dressed with a pesto sauce of herbs gathered in Val Badia.
The second prize goes to an Italian ingredient, the garusoli presented by chef Davide Bisetto and interpreted in a little soup of fennel and clams, or used to fill ravioli, as served in his “Oro Restaurant” in Venice. This tasty little sea snail lives on the bed of the Adriatic sea. Various types of offal – much loved by star chefs and lady diners, so long as they don’t know what it is they are eating - made their customary appearance among the evening’s star ingredients. To celebrate the genre, Sergey Berezutskiy chose diced veal cheek which had been previously smoked on peat moss and flavoured with a celery pick-me-up.
Swedish chef Edin Dzemat (Linnéa Art Restaurant), interpreted the most noble of offal, sweetbreads, by teaming them up delightfully with truffle and artichoke. Slightly grilled on a hot plate to make them crisp, accompanied by Jerusalem artichoke and sprayed with ginger, sweetbreads also appeared as a starter at the Col Alt refuge, cooked on this occasion by chef Enrico Vespani. More offal inside the tasty “blutwurst “, a spiced liver sausage by chef Kolja Kleeberg from the Vau Restaurant in Berlin. And what a huge success for the tripe braised in crustacean shellfish pan juices and served on red wholemeal polenta, this being one of the most conceivable types of offal maybe but also the most enjoyable. With this amazing dish of tripe, chef Karl Baumgartner from the Schoneck restaurant of Falzes has successfully taken what is normally considered a working class dish to a sublime level in a perfect example of light and contemporary haute cuisine.
Unquestionably the ingredient most loved by participants, chefs and foodies alike, pasta continues to reign supreme. We have tasted many Felicetti pasta shapes, which goes to show that pasta can be made equally well in the region of Trentino, and not only in Southern Italy. Davide Scabin served his fusilli pasta with burrata, amatriciana sauce and rocket leaves before wrapping it in a piadina, after the style of the famous Romagna street food. Filippo La Mantia prefers Kamut ribbed rigatoni pasta and dresses it with a pesto sauce of fennel, sun-dried tomatoes and roasted pistachios.
And to conclude with a celebration of Italian flavour: an apparently traditional spaghetti with tomato sauce by Nino di Costanzo from the Ristorante Mosaico, which reveals five different types of tomato, and a superb dish of Kamut linguine by Calabria-born Francesco Mazzei from the London restaurant L’anima, dressed with anchovy butter and “dragged” around the pan with turnip tops.
Here is a video of South African chef Chantel Dartnall while preparing a rooibos and tomato risotto for 250 hungry guests.