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By Margaux Cintrano
Photos: deliciousitaly.com* unless stated otherwise
Culinary artist Martin Koch Mairhofer was born and raised in Brunico, South Tyrol. As a child, he dreamt of becoming a chef, and his passion for the gastronomic arts has continued to this day. He has always wanted to combine his creativity with his love of cuisine and decided to attend the Emma Hellensteiner Culinary Institute in South Tyrol.
He earned a degree in Dietary Nutrition and is licensed as a Dietarian Culinary Specialis He furthered his culinary education with a Master’s degree at The Kaiserhof in Meran.
Chef Martin now runs his very own Martin Mairhofer Cookart Social World, an international circle of over 1,000 members which supports the new blood in the industry. These young cooks have the possibility of integrating and meeting during special events where they are also given a chance not only to demonstrate their epicurean creative talents and cooking skills but also their sport expertise and to simply develop friendships.*
What or who were the catalysts that led to your studying the culinary arts?
Cooking has been my dream since I was a child and I am very happy and thankful that I can live that dream, or should I say passion, till today.
As a teenager I have already had artistic skills. I watched my mum and my grandma cooking and use the local products. So I wanted to find a way to combine my creativity with food.
That’s how I got to culinary school.
Can you tell us about your mentors?
My mentor is Grant Achatz from Chicago.
What is your culinary philosophy?
The product is the exclusive star in the kitchen.
Tell us about Cookart. What inspired you to create it and what are the goals of this learning institution?
Martin Mairhofer Cookart Social World is an organisation which gives a lot of importance to social work, teamwork, motivation, help and frendship. There are many Cookart nations already: Germany, Austria, Italy, United States, Luxemburg. Many others will follow.
I wanted to create a place where the teens, especially the future cooks, can find answers to their questions and help when they are in need. Cookart became a social network and grew each day. The young cooks not only talk about their job but also their private problems. The Cookart Events give us the possibility to meet each other now and then and to rock a dinner together, just like the Snow Sorbet show.
In the professional world, the backstage of a restaurant is very stressful. There is a hierarchy you have to comply with and the tone used might sound aggressive in some critical situation. This can push some young cook to his limits.
So I wanted to find a way to prevent it: Cookart Social World helps to strengthen the young cooks physically and psychologically.
It is very important to me that the new blood always keeps cooking as a dream job in their mind, even in stressful situations.
Cookart Social World is an international circle of friends. Over 1,000 members support the new blood in the search of a job. The young cooks have the possibility to meet a lot of people and prominence at the Cookart Events. They have the possibility to show their skills.
What degree of importance do you bring to the aesthetics of your presentations?
The aesthetic presentation of my plates is very important to me.
Every dish has to be sexy. Without any feeling of excitation you may not claim to have a tasty plate.
I don’t think it’s possible to disjoin cooking, savouring and designing.
The most important about a dish is the taste and the design is the completion.
Tell us about autumn and winter 2015 in reference to local products and specialties.
I created the Snow Sorbet.
People like to ski or sled on snow, I like to sip it.
I had the idea to produce snow in my kitchen independent of the weather. So I tried out many variations and the most effective one was to use the Pacojet. I put crash-ice into a Pacojet crib and froze it by -60°C. In that way you can create a consistency that is similar to the granularity of real snow.
You can create the same reaction with a schock froster in less than 10 minutes.
Then I added 40g -50g snow sorbet powder to the preparation and put it again in the Pacojet. The result are pulverulent crystals.
I mixed the preparation with buttermilk and served it in a Martini glass and decorated it.
What is your gastronomic dream trip and why?
That trip would lead me to Chicago, to Grant Achatz, because I am fascinated by the story of his life.
What are your strengths and which things would you like to improve upon?
My strength is humaneness.
I think you can improve upon everything. Times are changing just like the expectations and realizations of people. So you have to step up to the plate everyday anew.
What have your trainings been in regard to culinary institute? the positives? the negatives? Did they focus on dressage?
My apprenticeships were easy and ordinary. But the real learning begins when school is done.
When you are in process of learning and making an apprenticeship it is very important to have somebody you can lean on, somebody who believes in you. It was less positive to find out that those persons are very rare.
Thirty years ago, the dressage of the plates was less important than today. The cooks used to work with their fingers, today we use tweezers.
Cooking has become very filigree.
Image: Grant Achatz by John – JOH_1267 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/johnjoh/4862642527/), CC BY-SA 2.0
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