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COOK THE MOUNTAINS

In November 2017, chef Norbert Niederkofler was awarded a third Michelin star for his restaurant St Hubertus at the five-star Rosa Alpina Hotel & Spa in Alta Badia. Jon Palmer asked him about how his strong ethos of sustainability and respect for nature informs his cuisine…

Image © Daniel Töchterle

Image by Jon Palmer

Your ‘Cook the Mountain’ project is about connecting suppliers and producers with chefs in mountain regions. How did all this begin?

We got our second star at St Hubertus in 2007, and the restaurant was famous for foie gras and seafood, and I thought, ‘Well, it doesn’t make any sense to be flying in people from all over the world and serving them the same food they can have in London or New York.’ We had always been using local produce but that was when we really started to focus on it, to work on this, and we opened the programme Cook the Mountain, which is when we really started to go in that direction. Today we have around 35 or 45 suppliers – depending on the season – and we visit them very often.

My idea is to help the farmers. It all begins with the farmer. We talk to them and explain to them what we want, and we listen to their problems so we can find the right way to sort it out for all of us. So then we know exactly where our produce comes from, and how it was produced, and we have the family and the face behind the produce, so we can tell the story. This is also very good.

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About Italia!

We have a splendid line-up of features to inspire your travels this month: our cover star Lake Maggiore has a wealth of stunning locations to explore, both around its shores and on the lake itself. If you like a good hike, our itinerary around the byways of a small corner of Maremma will defi nitely stretch your legs. For cricket fans we have the extraordinary tale of a most unlikely team – and they are really rather good! We have e-biking in the majestic Dolomites and we meet a 3-star chef there who’s really making a difference. And for culture vultures, we have the story of the rise, fall and rise again of Venice’s aptly-named La Fenice opera house.