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S.Pellegrino Chef of the Year Scot Kirton returns from epic cooking trip in Italian alps

Scot Kirton cooking at Care's The Ethical Chef Days

Scot Kirton (centre back) helps Luca Fantin chef from Bvlgari Tokyo (right) prepare dinner at Ciastel Coltz at Care’s The Ethical Chef Days in South Tyrol, Italy. Photograph courtesy of San Pellegrino, a sponsor of the event.

Scot Kirton has recently returned from Care’s The Ethical Chef Days, a gathering of the world’s top chefs, food writers, wine producers and VIP guests in Alta Badia, South Tyrol, Italy. The trip was the La Colombe chef’s reward for being named the San Pellegrino Chef of the Year at the 2015 Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards. We caught up with globetrotting Scot to hear all about it.

Tell us more about the themes of the event – reducing waste, reusing leftovers and recycling garbage.

It was inspiring seeing everyone come together for such a good cause. I hope to see all chefs around the world taking steps to reduce waste, reuse leftovers and recycle as much as possible. It’s the future of cooking. One of the chefs paired his dish with a drink that was made from all his waste peelings. It had so much flavour, and made me think twice about what I’m actually throwing away, and what I can do with it. I will definitely be trying to reduce waste at La Colombe. It’s going to be great fun coming up with uses for all the so-called offcuts.

You can’t go to the Alps without skiing…

I had so much fun attempting to ski! It was my first time, but I’ll definitely be back for a longer stay next time to attempt the bigger slopes. I learned a lot in the few hours I managed to ski.

Who were you most excited to meet?

It was great to meet chef Norbert Niederkofler, one of the organisers of the event. He has so much energy and passion for this cause. I also met San Pellegrino Young Chef of the Year, Mark Moriarty, who was lots of fun. Massimo Bottura was there for one night – he cooked a liver dish that was incredible.

Scot Kirton at Care's The Ethical Chef Days

Scot Kirton (left) at Care’s The Ethical Chef Days in South Tyrol, Italy. Photograph courtesy of San Pellegrino.

What did you cook?

I cooked at two of the events. For the first one I did roasted bone marrow and anchovy on toast, with fresh truffles, smoked aubergine and herb emulsion. For the other event I served Asian Wagyu beef tataki, with umami broth, shiitake, daikon, quail egg and avocado. Both received great feedback from everyone.

Any new tricks you’ll be bringing home?

A few inspirations from the trip will slowly make their way onto the La Colombe menu. Best you visit soon to see what they are!

Italy is one of the most exciting countries when it comes to food. What did you eat there?

There was obviously a lot of pasta! Every night once the functions ended an after-party was held, and at 1am a big pot of pasta would get dumped in the middle of the dance floor. Everyone would have a quick bite to eat, and start partying again. You’d be surprised how seriously some Italian cooks take making a pasta dish; they strive to get it cooked to perfection. The other things I enjoyed while there were really good balsamic vinegars, a dish of deer and Jerusalem artichoke, and buckets of fresh truffles. All the produce is really world-class.

Best moment of the whole trip?

Apart from being overtaken by three-year-olds on the slopes? On my second night there (when I was cooking for the first time), we were in this old castle. I wanted to chill some of my prep, but there wasn’t even a proper kitchen, never mind a fridge. The Italian chef just told me to open to window and put it on the sill. 30 minutes later half my purées were frozen and had to be defrosted! It was really cold there: minus-20 degrees. But everyone was so warm and welcoming, and really went the extra mile to make me feel at home.

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