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“The ethical chefs”: A conversation between Italy and Canada. CHANGE OF VENUE



“The ethical chefs”: A conversation between Italy and Canada. CHANGE OF VENUE

Moderated by John Higgins (Director/ Corporate Chef – George Brown Chef School).

On the occasion of the 2nd edition of the “World Week of Italian Cuisine”", Chef Norbert Niederkofler will be in conversation with Jason Bangerter, Alida Solomon and Rob Gentile to share with the IIC audience his culinary philosophy based on local products and sustainability. Light refreshments to follow.

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Norbert Niederkofler is the Executive Chef of Hotel & Spa Rosa Alpina ( in the village of San Cassiano, Italy. With a broad background in the culinary arts, including working closely with renowned chefs throughout Europe and in the United States, Niederkofler is responsible for all dining operations at the mountain retreat, including menu creation at two Michelin - star St. Hubert us and kitchen operations at the Wine Bar & Grill, Fondue Stube and Limonaia. He also oversees all in - room dining operations as well as private events through the Rosa Alpina.

Norbert was born in 1961 in Lutago, a small town right in the heart of the Dolomites. His parents owned a hotel for the skiers in winter and climbers in summer, and he was always exploring the outdoors. Norbert loved the local wild berries, which were full of flavour thanks to the region’s volcanic soils, and the freshwater fish which could be caught from the rivers and streams. However, despite his love for South Tyrol, Norbert desired to see the rest of the world: ‘I wanted to become a Chef, so I could travel,’ he tells us. ‘I was tired of looking at mountains all the time, so I left the first chance I got.’

After finishing his studies at a culinary college in Germany, Norbert worked in London, Zurich and Milan, before arriving in Munich to work with Eckart Witzigmann, his greatest mentor. Eckart taught him how to respect nature and its produce to achieve culinary perfection. After seven years in Munich, he travelled to New York and learnt the secrets to innovation under restaurateur David Bouley. It was here that he truly began to develop his own style, but after a while he started to miss the mountains and flavours of his hometown.

In 1993, Norbert returned home to work at the Castel Colz in La Villa for a year, before being offered the chance to run the  kitchen at Rosa Alpina Hotel & Spa in San Cassiano , at the base of the Dolomite mountains. At the time the restaurant was a pizzeria, but Norbert set about turning it into a fine dining establishment, using the cuisines of Austria and Italy as inspiration. He eventually decided to dedicate a small part of the restaurant to the local mountain range, refused to use ingredients produced outside of the Dolomites and named the restaurant St. Hubertus. News spread of this ‘Cook the Mountain’ philosophy, as it came to be known, and in 2000 the restaurant won its first Michelin star. Shortly after, the owner of the Hotel decided to close down the pizzeria and let Norbert have full control over the menu, which eventually led to a second star in 2007.

Norbert’s commitment to the Dolomites meant he had to research the area extensively and strike up close relationships with the region’s farmers and producers. He also had to start using more uncommon ingredients and try new things. Food isn’t the only thing Norbert does differently – his approach to running a kitchen and managing his team of chefs is unique, too. He prefers to let them discover their own talents and styles of cooking, encouraging original thinking and staying away from rigorously implemented rules.


Jason Bangerter.
Jason began his culinary career in Toronto, Canada at George Brown College Chef School, followed by a three-year apprenticeship at Le Royal Meridian King Edward Hotel. Jason’s drive for gastronomic excellence flourished, earning him a much sought-after position as assistant to John Higgins, the captain of Culinary Team Canada. This role also led him to a short stint at Paris’ Hotel Le Meridian Montparnasse.
He soon headed overseas permanently to join the brigade at Mosimann’s in London. Under Anton Mosimann, one of London’s leading chefs, Jason quickly rose through the ranks joining the opening teams for the Swissôtel Berlin in Germany and later Château Mosimann in Olten, Switzerland.
Upon returning to London, Jason often assisted at Mosimann Academy, where he taught alongside Chef Mosimann. Eager to continue his own learning, he spent free time as a stagiaire in the city’s top restaurants, such as Marco Pierre White’s Drones, Terence Conran’s the Orrery, Jean George’s Vong and Pierre Koffman’s La Tante Claire. Jason was next appointed Chef de Cuisine at the Kulm Hotel in the Swiss Italian Alps, where he was responsible for the hotel’s private dining club Dracula.
In February 2002, he returned to Toronto, joining the team at Auberge du Pommier, within the Oliver and Bonacini group of restaurants. Long hailed as one of the city’s best restaurants, Bangerter committed to raising the bar even higher and the restaurant received numerous awards and accolades during his tenure including Restaurant of the Year by Post City Magazines. After eight years, his success had not gone unnoticed and he was selected to lead and open two of the new downtown restaurants at the TIFF Bell Lightbox – O&B Canteen and the more upscale dining room and lounge Luma.
In the fall of 2013 he accepted the position of Executive Chef at Langdon Hall Country House Hotel and Spa in Cambridge. The restaurant has long been known for its regional cuisine, using the 75 acre estate that it sits upon as inspiration for the menus. A chefs kitchen garden, honey and foraging for wild edibles all on site, allow the menus of the award winning dining room to offer the freshest ingredients to guests.


Rob Gentile

A first generation Canadian, born to Italian parents, Chef Rob Gentile’searliest memories are from his grandmother’s garden and kitchen. Combining those skills learned at home and a passion for food, Rob took his first restaurant job at the age of 13. He inherently knew his career would revolve around food and after working in restaurants throughout his teenage years entered George Brown’s Culinary School. By 18 he found his first role in a professional kitchen at North 44, under celebrated Chef Mark McEwan. After just 10 years, he advanced from line cook to Chef de Cuisine at McEwan’s top restaurants and joined Peter Tsebelis and Gus Giazitzidis at The King Street Food Company to take the helm at Buca. Opened in 2009, Buca quickly became one of “Canada’s Best" and a highly sought-after dining destination.

Rob Gentile, now Culinary Director and Partner of The King Street Food Company’s collection of restaurants, has earned critical acclaim for his disciplined craft, determination to source unique, local ingredients and visionary approach to Italian cuisine. Since Buca’s opening, diners and critics alike have taken note of his culinary direction and creativity, resulting in Canada’s 100 Best  naming Buca Osteria & Bar (Yorkville) second in the country (2016), honours from the Ontario Hostelry Institute’s Gold Award for Independent Restaurateur (2015) and a prestigious Pinnacle Award from Foodservice and Hospitality naming The King Street Food Company 2014’s Company of the Year in Eastern Canada.


Alida Solomon
Alida Solomon is one of only a few women chef/owners in Canada.

2017 marks Tutti Matti’s 15th anniversary. Since its opening in 2002, Tutti Matti has been hailed by critics and received both local and national awards, including the prestigious 2009 “L’Eccio D’Oro” for Osteria of the Year (an award previously won by Mario Batali and Alain Ducasse).

In April 2016, Chef Solomon was awarded a “Fellow of the Institute” at the 2016 Ontario Hostelry Institute’s Gold Awards.

Alida lived and worked in Montalcino, Tuscany, for 6 years, and was highly respected in the regional hospitality industry where she garnered acclaim for the hilltop restaurant Boccon di Vino, for whom she earned Michelin recognition.
Tutti Matti has stayed true to its roots — serving food and wine that honours the spirit and culture of Tuscany.


Date: Monday, November 20, 2017

Time: At 6:30 pm

Organized by : Istituto Italiano di Cultura; Consulate General of Italy in Toronto; Italian Trade Commission

In collaboration with : The King Street Food Company, George Brown College, Centre for Hospitality & Culinary Arts

Entrance : Free


Alliance Française - 24 Spadina Rd., Toronto