Growing up in the mountains of South Tyrol, Italian chef Norbert Niederkofler had two goals: to see the world and to become a chef. He was on his way to becoming a chef from a young age: born in a region rich with local cheeses, wines, produce, and meats, his palate was already oriented towards the distinctive tastes and quality of local producers. So, at the age of eighteen, he set off in pursuit of his other goal. He moved from the Italian Alps to Germany, followed by stints in Zürich, New York, London, Sylt, and Munich where he learned from some of the best chefs in the world. Only then, did he return home to the legendary beauty of the Alps. There, in St. Kassian, he set out create a menu of regional dishes so exceptional that it has won the restaurant he leads – St. Hubertus at the Relais & Château Hotel & Spa Rosa Alpina – three Michelin stars and nineteen points (four toques) in Gault Millau.
As might be imagined for any dedicated chef, Niederkofler’s culinary practice is more than an approach to food, it’s a life philosophy. Designated as “Cook the Mountain” by Niederkofler, it all began when he started looking at how regional mountain cooking could champion a sustainable outlook, first locally, then globally.
We caught up with the busy chef to learn a bit more about why South Tyrolean cuisine is his passion.