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Pasta à la Gross

Alexander Gross from Lana completely renounces cultured wheat and manually crafts delicious pasta and noodles. His biological wholemeal creations are called “Pasta Alpina”.

It all started in a storage unit in the industrial district of Lana, where once a dryer as tall as a man used to hum away loudly. Back then, Alexander Trocker spent up to 16 hours a day listening to it. “You could almost say that I lived there”, the trained baker and food technologist tells us jokingly. He manually crafted 30 to 40 kilograms of noodles every day. “The food corporation Barilla would have laughed at me…”, he explains. He knows what he is talking about: he himself has worked for the international company for a few years, “The job I that used to do there completely drained me. How can I work for a product I don’t believe in?”. If it were up to Alexander, everyone should only eat whole foods.

The tagliatelle are cut by hand and individually placed into little nests. In the industrial production a machine takes care of that.

“I myself am a whole foods-freak, I stand by that nutrition 100%!” he tells us without turning a hair, so it comes as no surprise that the industrially manufactured pasta did not satisfy him. “Why not start fresh?”, he thought and immersed himself in the idea of bringing ‘honest’ pasta to the market. As soon as he was starting out he was hit with a hard setback: The combination of the cooling system, hygiene, packaging, distribution and the logistics were not economically viable. “I had to find a way to reduce the costs, that’s how I started to dry the pasta and to search for a partner. The TIS (Techno Innovation Park South Tyrol) assisted me with this task.”

“0-km bread”: from the manufactory in the basement to the shop upstairs.

His persistence has been rewarded. Gross has now moved his production to Bolzano. In an ample 70-80 m2 basement he produces 11 different kinds of “Pasta Alpina”, amongst others in the form of tagliatelle, penne, galletti, trecce and pizzoccheri. Some of these are made with “Regiokorncereal”, which comes from biological South Tyrolean agriculture. The flours he uses range from durum wheat, buckwheat and einkorn wheat to special regional variations such as rye and spelt. A lot of people don’t buy ‘dark pasta’, Gross tells us. “The palate has to readjust to that special taste again”, he concludes. For this reason the ingenious baker, who by now has an employee, has started using spelt-white flour. He makes pasta, hand-pulled grissini and “Kellerbrot” (‘basement bread’) with it. After all, he wants his creations to be enjoyed by everyone, not just whole-grain freaks and muesli-ladies.

A LITTLE TIP: You can watch Alexander Gross in action, if you want. Transparency is very important to him, that is why his workshop in “Pur Südtirol” is like a “show manufactory”. Witness the master make pasta, grissini and bread! Find him in the Via Dr.-Julius-Perathoner 9, in Bolzano.