Ötztal and Sölden as a source of inspiration for young tourism talent

Last updated on 24.04.2024

“Sölden is looking for the Gastronomic Super Talent” taking place in Sölden and Ötztal’s Gourmet Ambassador initiative are great sources of inspiration for the next generation of tourism professionals. For the second edition of “Sölden is looking for the Gastronomic Super Talent”, 40 students from Tirol, Upper Austria, Vienna and South Tyrol came together to show off their skills in exciting challenges in service, cooking and marketing. The upcoming talents were judged by absolute top stars of the scene such as Marco Müller from Berlin or Tirol’s top chefs Peter Fankhauser and Michael Ploner. This year the coveted title went to the Vocational School of Landeck. The team from Brixen came in second, ahead of Wilder Kaiser Tourism Schools. The unrivaled Ötztal Gourmet Ambassador initiative also won the Austrian Tourism Innovation Award.

Sölden is looking for the Gastronomic Super Talent 2024 © Ötztal Tourismus – Kirchgasser Photography

Showing young talents in tourism the necessary appreciation and offering them a suitable stage. With these values, Sölden welcomed the teams belonging to a total of six schools from Austria and South Tyrol to “Sölden is looking for the Gastronomic Super Talent 2024”. Some of the educational institutions had already taken part in the premiere competition last year, so the format was well received by the target group. “The main aim as a destination is to learn what is important to young people while ensuring that we are perceived by them as a truly attractive place to work,” states Oliver Schwarz, Managing Director of Ötztal Tourismus. The positive feedback from the students confirms the idea behind. “The event’s concept is extremely cool. In this context you can exactly find out what working in the catering and tourism industry is all about,” explains Sarah Schöftner, who joined the service team from Altmünster in Upper Austria. Luis Singhartinger Vieider from Telfs, who competed for Tirol’s Vocational School for Tourism & Trade in Landeck, is of a similar opinion: “It was the first time I was taking part in an event like this. Everything was perfectly organized, really impressive.” The Falcon Restaurant amid Sölden’s ski area and Gurgl Carat in Gurgl served as perfectly suitable venues.

Extremely high professional level
As part of the competition, the young talents completed several challenges in service, cooking or marketing in teams of two. The performance also impressed the expert jury and keynote speakers such as Marco Müller, Executive Chef in Berlin’s only restaurant awarded three Michelin Stars, who came all the way from Germany’s capital. “It is an incredibly good campaign that was launched here to promote young gastronomic talents and share the passion for our industry,” Müller states. This opinion was also confirmed by his Tirolean colleagues, the two top chefs Michi Ploner and Peter Fankhauser: “Absolute top performances at the highest level.” The results were correspondingly close. The Vocational School of Landeck won the coveted title “Sölden is looking for the Gastronomic Super Talent 2024” – including a multi-day summer holiday in Ötztal as the main prize. The students of Emma Hellenstainer Vocational Training Center for Gastronomy & Culinary Arts in Brixen can look forward to second place, winning a stay in Sölden on occasion of the Electric Mountain Festival 2025. The third place winners coming from Wilder Kaiser Tourism Schools can redeem their prize as special guests already at the Ski World Cup Opening in October.

Breaking new ground
“If we want to continue to have good employees in the future, it is crucial to break new ground,” emphasizes Angelika Falkner, hostess at 5-star Hotel Das Central in Sölden for 40 years. As head of the “Destination Employer Branding” working group, she is involved in the organization of “Sölden is looking for the Gastronomic Super Talent”. For the future she would like to see even more encouragement for service staff. “The service staff takes on the role of host who spends most of the time with the customers and can make a big difference,” says Falkner. Tirol’s Tourism Councilor Mario Gerber also praised Sölden’s commitment: “No matter how professional and modern our infrastructure is or how modern our mountain lifts and hotels are: it would not work without the employees who tale care of our guests every day. I would really like to thank Sölden for taking the initiative and creating the first event of this kind at such a high level.”

National award for Ötztal’s Gourmet Ambassadors
Winner of Austria’s 2024 Innovation Award for Tourism (ÖIT) in the “Inter-company Cooperation” category was the Ötztal Gourmet Ambassadors initiative presented by Ötztal Tourismus, Lebensraum Ötztal together with erbe kulturraum sölden and Raiffeisen banks in the region of Imst. The Ötztal Gourmet Ambassadors project pursues several goals. On the one hand, the training and further education format gives tourism apprentices the opportunity to acquire valuable know-how about their living environment and regional cycles. Additionally, the young and upcoming professionals come into direct contact with 17 local producers – including winegrowers and apple farmers from the lower valley as well as bakers, butchers, beekeepers and cheese producers. Already 18 apprentices from 11 different companies have now received the “Ötztaler Granta” as a symbol of completed training. The concept for making apprenticeship in the tourism & catering industry more attractive has now been awarded the coveted “Austrian Tourism Innovation Prize 2024”. The award is presented by the federal government (Ministry of Labor and Economic Affairs) and the federal states in two categories: “Individual company initiatives” and “Inter-company cooperation”.

Information and pictures:
More detailed information on “Sölden is looking for the Gastronomic Super Talent” is available HERE, details about Ötztal’s Gourmet Ambassadors can be found HERE and a collection of pictures HERE.
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