How Copenhagen became a culinary destination thanks to Noma

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Is it a coincidence that so many of the world’s best and Michelin-starred restaurants can be found in Copenhagen? Maybe not.

Danish haute cuisine, non-existent 20 years ago, has made Copenhagen a destination of choice for foodies, and here’s why.

Noma and its Michelin-starred chef Rene Redzepi, and Geranium led by Rasmus Kofoed, took the first two places of the 50 best restaurant awards recently published by the British magazine Restaurant.

“They were nobody 20 years ago when René Redzepi started to reinvent Nordic cuisine, focusing on local and ethical food,” says Szilvia Gyimothy, professor of marketing at Copenhagen Business School.

“It was pretty unique and now he’s a schedule maker.”

With cold winters and windswept sand fields from the North Sea and the Baltic, Denmark is worlds apart from the sunny orchards of France, Italy and Spain, whose bountiful harvests serve as gourmet feasts. for centuries.

Paradoxically, Denmark’s culinary successes have been partly attributed to the country having no gastronomic tradition to speak of, leaving the field open to innovation and creativity.

Image credit: Noma via Facebook

‘Never satisfied’

There are “many restaurants in the world where chefs… are resting on their laurels (and) are not that creative. Rene Redzepi and Rasmus Kofoed are never satisfied with what they have achieved, ”says Bent Christensen, founder of Danish food guide Den Danske Spiseguide.

“It’s very special to have two people like that in such a small country,” he adds.

Christensen attributed the success to a vibrant culinary scene led by the two young chefs, as well as the unexpected advantages of Denmark’s geographic location.

“You are always less than 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the sea, it’s fantastic for the fish,” he exclaims.

“And it’s nice with our climate – you really have four seasons and the vegetables can ripen slowly.”

In creating refined and delicately scented dishes, the chefs favor local specialties – such as cabbage, which Redzepi nicknamed “the coconut of the North” – honoring the country’s environmental mindset.

For example, Geranium is currently offering a three-hour “Fall Universe” session featuring Jerusalem artichoke, grilled lobster, sea buckthorn and duck.

Noma’s summer menu, which will soon make way for autumn’s “game and forest”, offers among other things an impressive saffron caramel candle, with a lit grated walnut wick dipped in essential oil. of cardamom.

Noma Copenhagen
Image credit: Noma via Facebook

“Advancing a social agenda”

Redzepi is a guru of fermentation – a technique he uses to make pine cones edible – and fiercely loyal to local produce, always inventing new dishes, says Gyimothy.

“He is involved in the debate around food, climate, working conditions and parity. He really used his role to push forward a strong societal agenda, ”she says.

Shortly after earning its third Michelin star in September – well, according to food critics – Noma grabbed first place in the 50 Best Restaurant Awards on October 5, knocking out Mirazur in Menton, France.

Redzepi previously held the title four times in the 2010s.

But fantastic food doesn’t come cheap: Noma’s menu costs 2,800 crowns (approx. 10,912 THB), excluding drinks.

“It’s still a very elitist product, but it also affects the way average Danes think about their food,” says Gyimothy.

Danes have become more concerned with buying locally grown and seasonal produce, and reducing their climate footprint, she explains.

The effect can also be seen on other restaurants.

“The Danes used to travel, just to practice (different styles of cooking), but now it’s upside down, people come to Denmark to study,” notes Christensen.

According to VisitDenmark, which promotes tourism in the country, 38% of foreigners who visited Copenhagen in 2019 did so to taste the food.

This article is published via AFP Relaxnews.


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