Meet Norbert Niederkofler. The name rolls of the tongue but just reading it, the last think you’d think is that he is Italian. He is, and Niederkofler is also one of Italy’s top chefs with exclusive three Michelin stars – and an authentic make-it-in-Italy attitude (more on that later). Growing up in Lutago, a small German-speaking village of 500 people in the very north of Alto Adige, a tri-lingual autonomous province, Niederkofler knew he wanted to travel the world but never guessed that after years in Germany, Switzerland, London and New York, he’d come back to the Alto Adige and launch a culinary revolution.
Cook the Mountain, it’s a concept, a philosophy and a way of life inspired by the mountain and surrounding nature, which Niederkofler has applied to the kitchen and restaurant. First Niederklofer transferred the Michelin-starred St. Hubertus from an international fine dining of foie gras and lobsters to an incredibly focused menu about sustainability. Niederkofler went directly to local producers and farmers to create a symbiotic network of supply and demand concentrating entirely on home grown and promoting the protection of the territory. His cuisine evolved, respecting “the rhythms of nature, and the balance of the environment and those who live in it”, explains Niederklofer. In its very essence, Niederkofler set out to cook the mountain and that’s exactly the revolution he’s leading.
Local sustainability can feed a mountain, a village and the world, but you’re not going to cook the mountain if you are in the city or at the beach. it’s all about understanding and working with the nature around you and the providers. Expanding on the Cook the Mountain concept, Niederkofler challenges chefs to create dishes with products sourced from their local environment, a challenge he took upon himself with Alpinn a mountain top restaurant at 2275 meter in Plan de Corones. At Alpinn (located in an abandoned sky lift which was transformed into Lumen Museum), the Cook the Mountain concept is the entire production from from sourcing locally products including water to the design of the restaurant space, a collaboration with architect Martino Gamper.
Niederkofler also steps out of the kitchen with CARE’s, an ongoing chef symposium that promotes sustainable and ethical culinary practices.
In the Episode
[00:33] Chef Norbert Niederkofler
[02:04] Origin Story and St. Hubertus
[02:59] Cook the Mountain
[05:22] Working with Nature
[08:30] Planning Sustainability and Finding Solutions
[13:45] Going Out of the Box
[16:03] Cook the Book book
[17:30] Alpinn: Opening atop the Mountain
[21:46] Culture Mix Alto Adige
[23:30] Alpinn Design
[26:30] Waste not, want not
[28:45] Getting off the Mountain
[34:05] Investing and reinvesting in the community
St. Hubertus *** (San Cassiano in Badia, BZ)
Alpinn (Plan de Corones, BZ)