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Interview with Cristian Cinquemani

Executive Chef - ADLER Lodge RITTEN

Cristian Cinquemani, tell us a bit about yourself!
I’m a 36-year-old Elba man, born and bred. When I was 20, I felt like I’d grown out of my island a bit. So, I moved away and I’ve lived in Bolzano for the last 11 years.

Has being a chef always been your dream job? What inspired you to it?
My family owns a restaurant, and as a child I used to help them with the kitchen basics: peeling vegetables, cleaning mussels, preparing fresh pasta… for me, that was actually more play than work.

What can you tell us about your training and career?
After a few summer seasons spent working on Elba, I decided to enrol in the International School of Italian Cuisine (ALMA), which gave me the chance to learn various cooking techniques, discover new ingredients and attend masterclasses with renowned chefs from all over Italy. After completing an internship at Parkhotel Laurin in Bolzano, I was offered a position in the kitchen, and I worked there for three years. Then I wanted to try something new, so I moved to Sydney and spent a year working and travelling around the country. This allowed me to put some more experience as a chef under my belt. When I returned to South Tyrol, I worked for Claudio Melis (Reisen, 1 Michelin star) at Fragsburg Castle as well as at Hotel Alpin Garden, among others. I have been working at ADLER Lodge RITTEN since 2022 – first as a sous chef, and from this season as the executive chef.

What are the hallmarks of the ADLER Lodge RITTEN cuisine?
The simple fact that the kitchen is open and visible to guests creates a unique and very inspiring atmosphere to work in. Then there’s the large garden right next to the hotel, where we grow our own vegetables, wheat, potatoes and herbs. For me as a chef, it is quite something to watch the ingredients for my dishes grow day by day. Sometimes, we also take guests on a tour of the garden, so they can see where the foods for their gourmet dinner come from. This is also a way to raise awareness and inspire respect for nature and our principles.

What are your main criteria for choosing ingredients?
It goes without saying that we favour the fresh produce from our own garden as well as high quality, seasonal produce from local farmers and businesses. But I also add a few staples from my childhood that I would never do without.

So, what are your personal favourites?
I grew up by the sea, so fresh fish and seafood remain one of my greatest culinary passions.

How do you contribute to sustainability in the kitchen at ADLER Lodge RITTEN?
We keep a close eye on origin and do our best to avoid long transport routes by using South Tyrolean products wherever possible. But other related topics, such as energy efficiency, avoiding food waste and reducing plastic packaging, are also part and parcel of our approach principles and, above all, of our daily work.

Are there any new trends you are inspired by, or that you would like to bring into your cooking?
To me, good cooking is rooted in tradition. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not interested in new techniques or inspired by new trends.

Have you learnt something important during your career that you would like to pass on to younger chefs?
Ours is a wonderful profession that is constantly evolving. That’s why it’s important to keep learning and staying abreast of new developments. There’s always something new to learn – it’s a ground rule that also applies to cuisine!

Is there any food that you would never eat?
I’m of the opinion that everything is worth trying at least once.

What’s your favourite dish?
It’s a rather simple recipe: spelt linguine with garlic, olive oil and chilli pepper.