Peter Girtler | © Hannes Niederkofler

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Italy: Excellent culinary delights in South Tyrol

What makes South Tyrol such a wonderful holiday destination?
Many holiday-makers appreciate the variety of activities you can enjoy in the region: hiking, skiing, cycling, discover cities, museums, culture – Italy’s northernmost province has many sides with its mountains, valleys and cities.
Others enjoy the region’s unique cuisine that is influenced by two cultures: the Alpine mountain world meets Italian savoir-vivre. One chef who combines these two influences like no other is Peter Girtler, long-time Executive Chef at Romantik Hotel Stafler. This year, the Gault Millau awarded his culinary skill the 2nd Michelin Star and named him "the most capable advocate of a holistic cuisine among the creative chefs".
How does it feel to receive awards like this? And what does the South Tyrol cuisine currently stand for? Peter Girtler tells us in the following interview, originally held for "Staflers Gut", Romantik Hotel Stafler’s own hotel magazine.

This year you have been awarded your 2nd Michelin Star. How did you react when you heard the news? Did you expect it?
Peter Girtler: I was more than happy, like a child at Christmas Eve. You can never expect any Stars or awards, you never know what will happen. I’ve just tried to do my best all these years.

In which direction is the cuisine in your region currently going? Are there any culinary trends?
PG: The latest trend are top quality, if possible regional products for the guests. Our farmers see this, too.

The South Tyrolean kitchen has a reputation of being rather heavy, what do you think?
PG: I think the modern kitchen is much lighter. Of course, a meal at the alp after a day of hiking or skiing is much richer in calories than a 6-course-menu at our restaurant. I always look out for light and vital dishes.

How did you get the idea to become a chef when you were growing up?
PG: In the beginning I wanted to become a mechanic. But many boys in my age wanted to do that. So I chose the kitchen instead. In the course of time, as a trainee and a young chef, you have different teachers and mentors who influence you and motivate you to get better and better.

Which four characteristics are essential to become a successful Executive Chef?
PG: Taste, persistence, creativity and the ability to motivate your staff.

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