I am still trying to get my mind around how much was jam packed into four days! From the minute I arrived at Hotel Rosa Alpina and met up with Luciano Novena (area manager of the Middle East and Africa for San Pellegrino) I knew this was going to be a TOP class event becauseevery little detail had been thought out. I was privileged to meet up with more members of the San Pellegrino S.p.A-Nestle Water's Italy team. Giorgia Concato, Elisa Pozzi and I had some fun times together and I look forward to welcoming them to South Africa one day soon. The amount of people/chefs I met and the relationships I developed in such a short period of time was unbelievable. I was directly involved with: the extremely humorous Georgy John (director gastronomica); the vegetarian/non drinking, oh so sweet Hala Jaber (category manager beverage Horecatrade); and the very open and direct, truly genuine Clements Mair (F&B director Rosewood Hotel), not forgetting Jonathan Warth (operation manager Bateel Café). What a fantastic time we all had together - an experience I shall always remember.
I met many a chef and can name but a few because there were about 70 Michelin-star chefs - and me. I flew into Verona and travelled by car with Norbert Kostner (Hotel Mandarin Oriental, Thailand-Val Gardena) to our hotel, in the Alta Badia Dolomites. We shared some interesting stories along the way. I will be visiting Peru one day soon and will see Mitsuharu Tsumura at restaurant Maido - I loved looking through his recipe book and chatting about the movement he is involved with in Peru. I was very excited to meet another woman chef, in this male-dominated industry. Lanshu Chen was from Restaurant Le Mout in Taiwan - and then meeting Eckart Witzigmann, who has been voted as the chef on the century, was pretty special. Another chef was Matteo Metullio from La Siriola Restaurant, San Cassiano - special mention to his entire team who were fantastic; each chef went out of his/her way to help me and ensure the quality was up to standard in every regard, as this is where I prepared, cooked and presented my dish. Where I stayed I had the privilege of getting to know Norbert Niederkofler of St Hubertus restaurant. Other chefs that stood out were: Roland Trettlto - he has been in contact with my favourites Margot Janse and Neil Jewell from "Le Quartier Francaise" and “Bread & Wine” restaurant in Franschhoek, South Africa; and Giancarlo Morelli (Morelli Ristorazione) who seemed to get the party stared every evening! Such interesting times and I really hope to meet up with one or two of these chefs in the future.
We, however, weren't only surrounded by chefs but also by people in the trade - suppliers . There was the truffle man, Simone Giovannozzi; musician Marcello Janni; Valentina Abbaona from Marchesi di Barolo wine estate and the lovely Stefano Medici from Ferrari wines. What a cultural explosion of creative people all under one roof. Activities that filled our days included: Audi driving experienced, pitch&putt by COLMAR, skiing lessons (on my side), sledging and then lots of food-and-wine tasting; think pasta party, dinner at Rifugio Moritzino up in the mountains, which involved "the big ox of carru from the head to the toe" with chefs from Piedmont an organised after party at Hugs-bar in San Cassiano, Barbecue/Braai on the terrace which I was involved and our gala dinner with Michelin star chefs at Rosa Alphina. An eating extravaganza.
At every meal ten or so chefs and their teams would cook... so tasting plates were continuously on offer.
“Samp and Beans” with 35 hour Sous-Vide Beef Tongue, Crispy Carrots, Fresh horseradish and Freda's Green Cabbage.
This dish was so well received and I was amazed how my cooking opened many more doors of interest from the other chefs. People in general are truly interested in what is happening in South Africa.
Thanks greatly to Ania Odyniecka, market development manager for San Pellegrino who did all the hard work this side organising my ticket and so on. Everything from the travelling, to the company, to accommodation, to activities, to invited functions and finally to my cooking, all made a memorable experience. I thank everyone involved especially the San Pellegrino team for all of their professionalism, dedication and support... this was all greatly appreciated.
I look forward to working with S.Pellegrino in the future... thanks for the memories!