FOURty Seconds with Norbert Niederkofler

01 Apr 2016
2 min read
FOUR speaks to Grand Chef Norbert Niederkofler ahead of his guest chef takeover at Chef Pino Lavarra’s restaurant, Tosca, to find out more about him and his culinary career that spans over 20years this year…

Your parents owned a small hotel in Alto Adige where you spent a lot of time in the kitchen. Do you use any of the dishes and influences that you remember from that time in your cooking today?

Things you eat in your childhood always stick in your mind and I still miss sharing meals at the dining table with my parents and sisters. Dishes made by my mother have influenced me, including canederli and lovely desserts like kaiserschmarrn.

What kind of experience do you aim to give the guests dining at your restaurant?

I want them to feel at home and the open fire place creates the feeling of having just come in from a cold winter’s walk and the mountain food helps to emphasise this.

You spent the formative years of your culinary career working with master chef Eckart Witzigmann. How has Eckart inspired you to become the chef you are today?

He gave us a wonderful foundation and explained that the star in the kitchen is always the food and not the chef, which I think is very important, especially these days with so much television and the importance of cuisine in people’s social lives. He motivated a whole generation, not just in Germany but all over Europe, opening the doors for many young chefs and giving them the opportunity to become great chefs.

What was it like winning you first Michelin star in 2001 and your second in 2006? Did you ever expect to receive such coveted accolades?

It was always my goal. It is very important to believe in what you do and enjoy it too – that way, good things happen. Otherwise, you can become frustrated and no longer good at what you do.

Describe your culinary ethos and style in a few words…

Our style is called ‘cook the mountain’ which means that we work with people we know and source local produce. We only use seasonal produce, working alongside nature and enabling people to taste it in our food.

Aside from awards, what would you say has been the most memorable moment in your culinary career so far?

I enjoy the everyday satisfaction of seeing people walk out of the restaurant happy.

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your younger self starting out a career in the world of food?

  • Go out and see as many different cultures as possible
  • Stay curious and interested in the world around you
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously
  • Try to stay a child for your whole life

What restaurant is currently on the top of your list to dine at?

It is still my mother’s table, having a chat with her and eating simple things we are proud of and that I ate whilst growing up.