Alessandro Martellini, this chef is a rock

In Selva di Val Gardena a young man from Tuscany presents his modern and high quality cooking with determination

09-09-2017

Chef Alessandro Martellini

The warmth of Maremma and a character as strong as the rocks of the Dolomites... The play of contrasts attracting each other is immediately clear in Alessandro Martellini, 33, chef at hotel Tyrol in Selva Gardena, in the shade of Sassolungo. He grew up surrounded by aromas, colours and  flavours and learnt to transform them into culinary art, following ancient traditions. «Real creativity – he points out – is not something to be archived, but it must improve». He looks younger than he is, but his Tuscan accent was the background to a long career, that started when he was still a child.

A view of Selva di val Gardena

A view of Selva di val Gardena

He smiles: «In my home in Orbetello I spent more time in the kitchen with my mum than playing with friends. Then after school I’d go to a tavern nearby and help in the way a curious boy can do. It is there that I understood what I wanted to be when I grew up. When I told my parents I wanted to attend catering school, they already knew. My dad just told me that whatever the choice, it was important that I completed it. I soon learnt the meaning of responsibility, seriousness, trust. Gaining trust is not enough, you must give it too. Those who give, take. There’s no one-way direction. This also applies in the kitchen: it only works if there’s team work. Those who run by themselves cannot take on this profession». 

Hotel Tyrol

Hotel Tyrol

Theory was followed by practice. At Tyrol there’s shared respect between him and the kitchen and dining room staff. He says: «I wanted to create a space of our own. A canteen where we could share food but we also have fun together». And without asking to, he leads me into his kingdom at the end of a demanding dinner service. Everything is extraordinarily clean and tidy. He opens and closes pantries and refrigerating cells to show me everything is in line with the law, each pack is labelled and organised according to its use.

Martellini with another Tuscan, Enrico Bartolini

Martellini with another Tuscan, Enrico Bartolini

Alessandro is a strong man. Bibiana Dirler and Maurizio Micheli, the owners of this elegant and traditional 4 star superior hotel called him to be the sous of a chef who had been there for many years already. «I talked straight right from the start – he says – I would come only if I was to be the number one in the kitchen. For the owners this might have been a gamble, but I was sure I’d make it. In fact, I knew I would bring a “new” and special cuisine and would open to non-guests too».

He’s young of age but already has significant experience at Il Pellicano in Porto Ercole, in the days of Antonio Guida, and at Villa Feltrinelli in Gargnano with Stefano Baiocco, as well as Enrico Crippa. «I made experiments, proposed ideas – he recalls – Each one of them taught me something, in total synergy with my teacher: nature. I follow nature in every ingredient and represent it in my dishes. Zero kilometre is not a trend, it’s my philosophy. I know where every ingredient comes from, I know each producer. Freshness is an unquestionable requirement, every day. This is also why my menus are never “automatic”. They adapt not just to seasonality, but to daily availability too».

Gently cooked veal tongue with anchovies from the Sea of Cantabria, burrata from Andria and tomato water

Gently cooked veal tongue with anchovies from the Sea of Cantabria, burrata from Andria and tomato water

But how can a sea man interpret the cuisine of an emblematic mountain place? He points out: «In the menu, you’ll find Ravioli di pappa al pomodoro, the flavours of my homeland and my childhood. And then fish, with sauces and vegetables that become innovation at the service of tradition. It is not true that in the mountains you can only eat lots of canederli, polenta and pork shin. You can also offer good gourmet cuisine without being unfaithful to the context in which you are serving it».

Tyrol opened the doors of its restaurant reserving an intimate stube surrounded by wood even to those who don’t stay at the hotel, but want to try high quality dining. In Val Gardena this is a rare offer. «Clients’ palates – says the chef – help me find the best combination. The real difficulty is “adjusting” the dish, balancing the flavours so that you can identify each one. One may prevail, but without being overpowering. It also helps me find the courage to try some pairings that are… delicately brave».

Risotto Carnaroli “Ecorì”, with sea snails, mixed with mugo pine and mountain butter from Maso Vallin

Risotto Carnaroli “Ecorì”, with sea snails, mixed with mugo pine and mountain butter from Maso Vallin

Martellini presents a complete tasting menu for 80 euros or a choice of 5 courses for 60, paired with a selection of extra virgin olive oils and a list of wines produced in small numbers. At first sight, the dishes strike you thanks to their appearance, a real palette of coloured geometries, enhanced by the strength of pairings that may seem provocative but are in fact “blessed” ideas. As with Tataki amberjack with yuzu mayonnaise, wild herbs, miso infusion and crispy quinoa, Gently  cooked veal tongue with anchovies from the Sea of Cantabria, burrata from Andria and tomato water.

Or the delicate Risotto Carnaroli “Ecorì”, with sea snails, mixed with mugo pine and mountain butter from Maso Vallin or Suckling pig cooked at low temperature with apple and mustard , dandelion and cauliflower cream; and also Roast lamb from Val di Funes with mashed potatoes and fried chards.

Vita Health, a dessert made with a reduction of green celery, aloe gelatine, biscuit, semifreddo with almonds from Noto and fennel sorbet

Vita Health, a dessert made with a reduction of green celery, aloe gelatine, biscuit, semifreddo with almonds from Noto and fennel sorbet

Grand finale with a "light" dessert that gives a gist of his boundless creativity when cooking. «I have a pencil and notebook on my bedside table – he reveals – The best ideas come at night. So I wake up all of a sudden, I turn on the lights and note them down. Or else they’ll vanish». He’s down to earth, knows he has a great opportunity and wants to make it grow in the best way. There are nights when he looks up in the sky. It’s full of stars. He doesn’t call them but stares at them intensely. And dreams.
Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


Hotel Tyrol
Strada Puez 12, Selva Gardena (Bolzano)
Tel. +39 0471 774100
www.tyrolhotel.it

 


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