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Chef Alessandro Gilmozzi (El Molin, Cavalese)
El Molin is housed in a former flour mill dating back to the 1600s and situated in the heart of Cavalese in the Val di Fiemme of the Dolomites mountain region in northern Italy. Alessandro Gilmozzi’s restaurant contains an almost magical atmosphere, with ancient wooden interiors and dishes that exhibit a playful spirit that fuses technique with imagination and freedom of expression.
El Molin began in the early 90s as a kitchen rooted to the land but has slowly moved towards more creative cuisine, becoming a landmark in Trentino for its innovative "ventures". Sixty per cent of our menu is based on the region (played with great imagination) and 40% comes from research and outside influences that we use to enhance our offering. Innovation stems from a breaking down of borders. With us, for example, there is no real distinction between first and second courses so you can choose in complete freedom.
Which dishes best represent the restaurant identity?
One of our most memorable dishes is Tagliolini pasta with smoked juniper which I think resonates with Trentino people who have grown up on smoked speck [juniper flavoured ham]. It’s seasoned with black truffle from the Lessini mountains and completely encapsulates our valley. Another recipe that I love, and this is a new entry, is the Bocconcino [small nuggets] of fat shrimp from Sicily carefully laid on a false oyster mayonnaise. It’s served on a curved ox horn and is eaten with your hands. It’s a high-impact dish that plays games with the customer’s senses.
Any particularly memorable dishes?
One in particular: the 36 month Trentingrana [cheese from the province of Trento in northern Italy] mantecato [beaten butter and parmesan] risotto seasoned with pancetta, lime and a sprinkle of Venezuelan chocolate powder. It’s a bitter, spicy interpretation of the puffed rice and Nesquik that my mother gave me as a child ...
I love the woods. I would serve it all to my clients if I could. Not just mushrooms but also lichens, moss, the bark of trees, the natural herbs and vegetables of the mountains. I’ve already done some cooking with bark and the results were good. I would go even further....
Who were your mentors and are there other local places that you would recommend?
I had the very good fortune to learn from some masters. In particular, Alain Ducasse and Ferran Adrià. I first learned the importance of searching for good raw materials and the principles of management. From that point I learned that technique should be at the beck and call of imagination.
Any small obsessions?
All my work is an obsession. My great belief is that the team working in the dining room must fully understand the dishes. For this reason I try to educate my team by explaining to them the ingredients and cooking techniques that characterize each dish. It’s nice to see them take a more active role. Many of our dishes are "finished" in the dining room itself. This enables customers to understand and interpret the plate with greater awareness and attention.
Any new developments for El Molin?
We are looking to offer customers a completely renewed space. We will remain in our splendid seventeenth-century mill and we have, and always will have, just thirty or so covers. But there are some innovations that we can introduce to make an evening even more special for guests. Wait and see!