The surprising Tina Marcelli: close to Brennero, an emerging talent for Italian cuisine

The chef from South Tyrol, born in 1986, leads a surprising brigade of women, and presents local food with international influences. Very convincing

21-10-2020
A team made only of women – except for sommelier

A team made only of women – except for sommelier Marco Tufo – at Artifex inside Hotel Feuerstein in Val di Fleres, Brennero. Left to right, chef Tina Marcelli, her wife Kim Marcelli, Stefanie Jehle, Valentina Lovi who takes good care of the dining room, bread maker Angela Martinelli, sous and pastry chef Sandra Kofler. Photo by Tanio Liotta

The name of the person we believe will be a future star in the Italian culinary firmament is Tina Marcelli, born in 1986, a nice discovery; she already shines at Artifex, three fine dining tables inside the Feuerstein Nature Family Resort, a family luxury resort surrounded by nature in Val di Fleres, 5 km from the Austrian border, 15 from Vipiteno and a little more from Brennero. In other words, we're in a land of frontiers. She bears this identity in the middle of two worlds in her DNA: her dad, Marcello, is a chef from Umbria (though he worked for many years in Rome before moving close by to San Candido, first at the Old Fashion Miramonti, and then at Bad Winkel in Campo Tures); her mother, Christina Weger is from Valle Aurina, which is a thin strip in the Alps, squeezed from east to west on the border between Italy and Austria, north of Brunico.

Tina was born and raised here. We cant' tell if it's because of the harsh winters, because of her personality or of her training («My father was always my first judge, very severe, and also my hero and master, I learnt by his side. This is why I don't stop when facing criticism, it helps me improve»), but she is tough, down-to-earth, determined, serious. Yet she's not proud at all, or full of herself; if anything, she believes in hard work.

The hotel surrounded by Val di Fleres. Photo Alex Filz

The hotel surrounded by Val di Fleres. Photo Alex Filz

She leads a team made only of women, starting from her wife, Kim Marcelli, a young woman with an international passport (her father is half American and half Indian, her mother is from Koln) and a talented selector of excellences, especially meat and fish; after its opening in May 2019 the team has been attentively developing Artifex, the gourmet restaurant of the hotel, thanks to the trust that Peter Mader, patron of Feuerstein, placed in Tina: «we met when I was still in Appiano and he wanted me to work here – the chef says – In 10 minutes we found an agreement. He's a beautiful person, an entrepreneur who never stops dreaming».

Feuerstein Nature Family Resort

Feuerstein Nature Family Resort

All of Tina Marcelli's career has been in the German-speaking world, before Val di Fleres there were the Alpin Royal in Valle Aurina, Sillianer Wirt in Austria, Hilton in Munich, and then Gartenhotel Moser in Appiano, from which she made the leap to Feuerstein, in December 2018. Artifex arrived a few months later, as we said. It's clear this is the initial imprinting in her style («First of all, I want to bring the cuisine of my Valle Aurina»), but she's open to all sorts of influences, «I always say we're at home here, but we live all around the world. This is our philosophy». She has two tasting menus: the first is strictly local, with five courses, the second has eight and plays on influences, mostly – but not limited to – Asia, as with the very elegant Chicken tom kha gai with coconut milk, lime zest, her oil and diced vegetables. Yet the entire journey is multicoloured, fun, very original. It oozes personality.

Tina Marcelli. Photo from Manuel Kottersteger

Tina Marcelli. Photo from Manuel Kottersteger

Tina is never afraid of making mistakes, if anything she's afraid of banality; she bets with reason; she loves putting herself to the test. She moves from the interpretation of tradition (Pressknodel with Graukäse from Valle Aurina, crunchy speck, onion, rocket, cabbage and cumin seeds, which reinterprets a local classic, «my grandmother used to make them all the time, it was her favourite dish. I learnt from her») to identity cross overs, as in her sort of South Tyrol gricia pasta, Spelt gricia, Tête de Moine, chive oil, parsley and jowl bacon, very intriguing, served on a bed of aromatic hay which is not only a decoration, but beautifully completes the aroma. The chef is not coy, her dishes are always rich but he's also very elegant, as in the case of the Beef steak tartare from Val Pusteria, couscous of cooked and raw cauliflower, herbs, mountain pine nuts, cream of fermented cauliflower, fir oil, a marvel that makes an evergreen dish current by bringing it to the Alps, with fresh, balsamic, harmonic notes.

A very new dish from Marcelli, which we haven't tasted: Duck tea with dim sum with its entrails, gel of dashi with potato puccia (puccia is the classic loaf from South Tyrol, made with rye and wheat, aromatised with anis seeds). On the side, Praline of braised duck leg with spicy mayonnaise 

A very new dish from Marcelli, which we haven't tasted: Duck tea with dim sum with its entrails, gel of dashi with potato puccia (puccia is the classic loaf from South Tyrol, made with rye and wheat, aromatised with anis seeds). On the side, Praline of braised duck leg with spicy mayonnaise 

Tina shoes excellent skill and surprising maturity, «I always focus on raw materials. I want people to see them, sense them, experience them». She accepts advice. As the one we gave for her Carabineiro in tempura with wasabi mayonnaise, chutney of passion fruit and mango, lemon zest, the breading made with rice was a little to heavy and thick, «I've changed it now, it's very thin» she told us a few days later.

There's an idea at Artifex, there's structure, awareness, culinary culture, preparation, determination. And they're willing to work hard.

The only man in the staff, sommelier Marco Tufo, born in 1984 in San Giorgio del Sannio, Benevento, also deserves a mention. He's also well focused, with never banal pairing recommendations, as in the case of the excellent 100% Solaris from Boutique Winery, Prato allo Stelvio, in Val Venosta. Another discovery.

Our dinner as portrayed by Tanio Liotta.

Potato croquette, malga cheese, wild redcurrant jam, speck from the maso and watercress sprouts 

Potato croquette, malga cheese, wild redcurrant jam, speck from the maso and watercress sprouts 

Chicken tom kha gai with coconut milk, lime zest, herb oil, diced vegetables. A beautiful dish, elegant, suave, very enjoyable and well balanced 

Chicken tom kha gai with coconut milk, lime zest, herb oil, diced vegetables. A beautiful dish, elegant, suave, very enjoyable and well balanced 

Bread: classic sourdough loaf leavened 48 hours, mix of spelt and wheat flour; multigrain bread; crackers with oregano; focaccia with potato and rosemary; wholewheat focaccia with walnuts; finally, grissini, lovely. All this is served with three types of butter: malga, with Lagrein and Sichuan pepper, and with dried tomatoes, basil and pine nuts. Angela Martinelli, born in Lucca in 1978 takes care of the bread 

Bread: classic sourdough loaf leavened 48 hours, mix of spelt and wheat flour; multigrain bread; crackers with oregano; focaccia with potato and rosemary; wholewheat focaccia with walnuts; finally, grissini, lovely. All this is served with three types of butter: malga, with Lagrein and Sichuan pepper, and with dried tomatoes, basil and pine nuts. Angela Martinelli, born in Lucca in 1978 takes care of the bread 

Veal tongue cooked at low temperature and glazed with wild red currants and sorrel

Veal tongue cooked at low temperature and glazed with wild red currants and sorrel

A very intriguing Spelt gricia, Tête de Moine, oil with chives, parsley and jowl bacon 

A very intriguing Spelt gricia, Tête de Moine, oil with chives, parsley and jowl bacon 

Beef steak tartare from Val Pusteria, couscous of cooked and raw cauliflower, herbs, mountain pine nuts, cream of fermented cauliflower, fir oil. The young woman has class. This dish is a marvel, it brings the usual tartare to the Alps, with fresh, balsamic, elegant and also rich notes 

Beef steak tartare from Val Pusteria, couscous of cooked and raw cauliflower, herbs, mountain pine nuts, cream of fermented cauliflower, fir oil. The young woman has class. This dish is a marvel, it brings the usual tartare to the Alps, with fresh, balsamic, elegant and also rich notes 

This Pressknodel with Graukäse from Valle Aurina, crunchy speck, onion, rocket, cabbage and cumin seeds is rich and intense. It's a traditional local recipe which Tina wisely interprets. The pressknodel è is a pressed knodel with cheese, first pressed to avoid breaking the structure, then boiled as with normal knodels. Served with clarified butter 

This Pressknodel with Graukäse from Valle Aurina, crunchy speck, onion, rocket, cabbage and cumin seeds is rich and intense. It's a traditional local recipe which Tina wisely interprets. The pressknodel è is a pressed knodel with cheese, first pressed to avoid breaking the structure, then boiled as with normal knodels. Served with clarified butter 

Three variations of foie gras, served with apricot chutney (very well made) and pan brioche (idem). Here the foie gras gelato

Three variations of foie gras, served with apricot chutney (very well made) and pan brioche (idem). Here the foie gras gelato

Three variations of foie gras: Catalan cream of foie gras, with a pinch of salt too many 

Three variations of foie gras: Catalan cream of foie gras, with a pinch of salt too many 

Three variations of foie gras: rocher of foie gras

Three variations of foie gras: rocher of foie gras

Lobster, its bisque, arctic char roe, extra virgin olive oil and herb oil, salicornia

Lobster, its bisque, arctic char roe, extra virgin olive oil and herb oil, salicornia

The presentation of this dish needs some improving:  Lemon risotto, scampi, foam of lemon, toasted scallop and wild carrot 

The presentation of this dish needs some improving:  Lemon risotto, scampi, foam of lemon, toasted scallop and wild carrot 

Rib eye from Val Pusteria, Bearnaise sauce, extra virgin olive oil and herb oil 

Rib eye from Val Pusteria, Bearnaise sauce, extra virgin olive oil and herb oil 

Cucumber and passion fruit pudding, cucumber sorbet and milk cream. Very fresh and aromatic. The pastry chef is Sandra Kofler. Well done!

Cucumber and passion fruit pudding, cucumber sorbet and milk cream. Very fresh and aromatic. The pastry chef is Sandra Kofler. Well done!

Dark chocolate cigar with caramel mousse and beer gelato. Not a novelty but especially elegant thanks to the perfect mix of textures. The chocolate is thin and crispy 

Dark chocolate cigar with caramel mousse and beer gelato. Not a novelty but especially elegant thanks to the perfect mix of textures. The chocolate is thin and crispy 


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