“NOMA in Copenhagen has members of staff with the job title ‘Foragers’. Their task is basically to go out and, well, forage! When I did work experience at NOMA we were sent out into the forest with them, 50 kilometres from Copenhagen. They showed us a clover leaf and said, ‘That’s what we’re looking for today’. Then we had three hours to go out and forage in the forest.

The restaurant used lots of unusual things: moss, ants, bee pollen. The deep freezer was full of all the things that grow in the region. They foraged and collected a lot in summer so that they didn’t need to buy herbs or anything like that in winter. Everything was preserved and deep frozen.

My time at NOMA really inspired me. Now I want to do something similar here. We have so many cool things growing around us which nobody knows about. I try to go out into the meadows once a week and collect wild herbs. We have a herb expert, Rose-Marie. She and her daughter Babsi know so much about herbs in Tirol. I will often go out foraging with them or send them photos asking, ‘Hey, what’s this – and can I eat it?’.”

 

Michael Ploner – chef

 

Michael Ploner may be just 23 years old, but he has already achieved a huge amount in his short career. He has won many competitions, including the 2016 Austrian Cooking Championships, and has cooked in locations such as the Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok, the award-winning NOMA in Copenhagen and Johann Lafer’s Stromburg. He currently works in his parents’ hotel, the Alpen-Comfort Hotel Central in Nauders.

 
Chef Michael Ploner, © Tirol Werbung/Lisa Hörterer
Michael Ploner's culinary creations, © Tirol Werbung/Lisa Hörterer
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