Why I had one of the best food blogger experiences enriching my view and knowledge about farm to table cuisine
St. Moritz Gourmet Festival has it all
Where to begin to summarize this unique experience in the Swiss Alps. My journey started in a cute village close to St. Moritz called Celerina. Here the Hotel Chesa Rosatsch is located with 3 different restaurants. A detailed review is available here. The rest of my time was dedicated to the St. Moritz Gourmet Festival.
What happens at the St. Moritz Gourmet Festival?
10 American Master Chefs are invited to St. Moritz for sharing culinary experiences with local Chefs of their partner hotels. Together they enthrall the festival guests with culinary delicacies one week long. Tickets are available online through the St. Moritz Gourmet Festival for everybody. Additional special events as the Kitchenparty or the Chocolate Cult at Badrutt’s Palace take place during the week. Due to my interest in the farm to table concept my choice fell for Chef Melissa Kelly located at the wonderful Nira Alpina Hotel in Silvaplana.
Sweet sensations at the Chocolate Cult, Badrutt’s Palace
My festival visit starts with a glamorous chocolate afternoon. The legendary Chocolate Cult at the Badrutt’s Palace. Can you imagine what chocolate lovers feel when entering the elegant corridor of this beautiful classy hotel? And that smell of real pure chocolate? You find chocolate art paired with lots of experience and passion. Delicious fresh made pralines, tarts, creams and pastries. Only tasting can explain!
Why Chef Melissa Kelly gathered all of my attention at NIRA Alpina in Silvaplana
The farm to table philosophy is something that surrounds me since my childhood. The idea of having an experienced Women Chef in Switzerland to share her life and cooking philosophy was reason enough for me to attend the St. Moritz Gourmet Festival. The fact that she has Italian roots was very exciting to me, too.
Melissa Kelly started cooking with the age of 5 in her grandmother’s kitchen. Her Italian roots are from the beautiful city of Bologna. It’s the one and only place where real good and traditional pasta comes from. This explains the exquisite homemade linguine she prepared for us. Her Signature dish is the Nonno Primo’s Pork Saltimbocca named by her grandfather Primo was the absolute highlight.
Chef Florian Mainzger, the home Chef at Hotel NIRA Alpina had a challenging task to gather all of the ordered ingredients to follow Chef Melissa’s farm to table “religion”. He did a great job she compliments. There is a lot of planning and communication between the two Chefs beforehand, plus cooking on altitude is an additional challenge, confirms Chef Melissa. She brought some special herbs and even pork products all the way from the US to prepare the dishes as authentic as possible. The staff at NIRA Alpina made this unique event possible. The cozy and warm ambience in the Trattoria matched perfectly to the dinner setup. Hotel NIRA Alpina offers an outstanding service. I appreciated their help and kind availability for example by always offering me help for transfer when needed to St. Moritz.
Gioannis from Nira Alpina told me, that he drives every morning to get some fresh goat milk for one of his guests. Absolute lovely!
Diving into the 5 course dinner prepared by Chef Melissa and the team
The courses taste puristic and very fresh. Her creativity is very healthy! She integrates a variety of vegetables that make the courses light and colorful for the eyes. I love the Mediterranean flavors and Italian touch she combines in all courses.
The starter is a fig stuffed with Marcona almond and candled orange. It comes wrapped in pancetta with local chicories. The Gorgonzola filling of the fig is a real surprise.
The next plate is a perfectly spiced Brittany Scallop with a cauliflower panna cotta, caviar and a very light herb spuma.
Hand made Squid ink linguine with a spicy tomato sugo are served next with a Broccoli crema and calamari a la Plancha.
The last course is a pork saltimbocca with roasted garlic potato purée, spinach, prosciutto and a wild mushroom Madeira sauce.
My absolute preferred desert as of now is the Butterscotch budino with salted caramel and rosemary shortbread. This combination gave me such a happy belly feeling, really mouth-watering.
The micro gap still available in my belly got filled by a south Italian traditional sweet! What a surprise! Super soft and fluffy fried Zeppole. I love this fried dough turned in sugar and cinnamon. It reminds me home! In Italy you get them especially at Saint Joseph’s day that is celebrated in March.
Living farm to table as a life philosophy
“Eating and cooking healthy is not a lifestyle, it’s a life philosophy”, says Chef Melissa. This explains why she is running Restaurant Primo in Rockland, Maine since more than 18 years. Living on a farm is the way she grew up. Primo’s staff is involved in the whole gardening and farming activities. There is a lot to do on a 4 acre property. This involvement is necessary to make her life philosophy completely understandable. This is how 400 pounds of garlic come together for example. By not using chemicals and pesticides, their flowers and produce are helping to maintain rich soil without depletion and degrade for generations to come.
They frequently teach kids about farming and healthy food. I liked the story from Melissa about the kids asking if the plant is the place where the chicken come from.
Chef Melissa is as a very authentic and approachable personality. This explains the happy and relaxed faces enjoying their time in the kitchen. Chef Jenna reveals that they feel like a little family. Well done, I really like the group spirit!
Nose to tail for everybody in Rockland , Maine – Annual Pig Day extravaganza
I am happy to see how Melissa offers this tradition to her guests at Primo Restaurant. During the month of November the Pig Day extravaganza takes place at Primo restaurant. Last year more than 180 people spent their day with processing the just-slaughtered pigs raised on the Primo farm. After working everybody eats the food. 4,200 pounds of pork were processed into prosciutto or pates. It’s a unique way to feel Chef Melissa Kelly’s philosophy. Primo’s Pig Day is a focal point of the restaurant since 2009. Special seven courses nose-to-tail tasting menu are available with exotic delicacies as pig’s ears, pig’s tails, trotters and headcheese.
Where to find Nose to tail in Switzerland
Luckily I discovered the Hotel Rosatsch and their food philosophy. They offer these delicacies, too. You do not need to travel that far! Visit the beautiful Engadine and make a stop at Restaurant Stüva Rosatsch. Try their Slowfood or Nose to tail menu!
Around Zurich you can get in touch with Slowfoodyouth. Their activities published online include interesting projects with special excursion to farms. Join their eat in every first Wednesday of the month to get in contact with local nutrition aware foodies. Or just check online and let me know by email if you find interesting places!