Key to perfection: Patience, persistence and perseverance
Photo Credit: Claes Bech-Poulsen
The world’s most ambitious chef competition is undoubtedly the Bocuse d’Or. Named after the legendary French chef Paul Bocuse, the biennial championship was first held in 1987 in Lyon, France. It is considered the World Chefs’ Olympics. Rightly so, because here, chefs are not evaluated according to their food in their restaurants, or their previous successes, but judged on their performances during the competition. At the slightest mistake, years of effort may be wasted, and the dream gone forever.
Danish chef Rasmus Kofoed has set a record that is hard to achieve, almost impossible. He won three Bocuse d’Or medals in the toughest competition. Getting a single medal is a dream of chefs that often fails to come true, and he collected the whole set one after another in the course of six years, getting Bronze in 2005, Silver in 2007, and finally grabbed the Gold in 2011. He prepared like an Olympic athlete, dedicating his life to reaching his goal, with patience, persistence and perseverance. The awards did not end there. In 2016, he also became Denmark’s first chef to earn three Michelin stars at the Geranium restaurant, which he opened with his partner Søren Ledet in 2007.
In this context, one can easily say that he has been the first shining North Star among Scandinavian chefs who have made a great impact on world cuisines in recent years. Now years later, after tasting his latest menu, I realize that Kofoed’s ultimate goal was not confined to collecting those medals or stars but to reach his own target, flawless perfection.
Plant-based meatless cuisine
Geranium is located in the Østerbro Parken stadium building, in an unexpected location for such an ambitious top restaurant. From the corner of the stadium, you take the elevator up to the eighth floor and reach a serene place, decorated in Danish-style, calm with understated elegance. Finesse is hidden in the details, there is no exaggeration, quality is felt in the quiet simplicity. Here, the attention is on the plate, not the space. Kofoed is a true perfectionist. The dishes he creates display impeccable beauty, executed with flawless craftsmanship. So much so that you hesitate a moment to taste, sometimes you even doubt that they are edible, as they appear in front of you as if like an intricate work of a jeweler or like fine lacework.
But the cuisine of Geranium is not only about the looks. Kofoed is constantly searching for new taste combinations which he reflects in seasonal menus. This year there is a new challenge, starting from March they completely switched to a meatless new menu, where only fish and seafood are included and all the rest is plant-based. I was one of the lucky few to try among a group of food writers from all over the world. Did we miss the meat? Did not even notice its absence, every morsel was so satisfying that no one thought of asking “Where is the beef?” The new Spring Geranium Universe resonates truly of Nordic spring, each plate as delicate as a spring flower, almost untouchable and ephemeral.
Moreover, Geranium now has a sister named Angelika, a completely vegan outlet opened right next to Geranium, as a side-project in a more laid-back setting, and offering a more casual, affordable choice. It is a global phenomenon now that many world-famed restaurants switch to plant-based kitchens, but in Kofoed’s case, this was all so natural as he himself with his family lives on a meatless plant-based diet. Angelika is more approachable, with friendly and cheerful service, plates are pretty, again with the springy touches of tiny flowers here and there, tastes clean and fresh, the whole experience gives you a healthy feeling, especially if you take the non-alcohol pairing featuring juices, kombuchas and extractions.
When tasting Angelika’s health resonating dishes and drinks, I could not help but think that Angelika can get a lot of ideas from our kitchen. The good news is Kofoed will probably visit Turkey soon. Who knows, maybe we can add a flavor or two of Anatolian cookery to the cuisine of this ever-shining North Star.
Fork of the week:
Many friends know that when I travel abroad, I always bring food gifts to friends. When we visited to try the new menu as a group of three, we had enough place to carry tastes from Turkey for the Geranium kitchen. The package included Punica pomegranate extract, Hayfene Spices, including nigella seeds, sumac and mahlep, an assorted package of sweets from Karaköy Güllüoğlu Baklava and Marsel Turkish delights. According to what I learned from Virginia Newton John, the public relations wizard of Geranium who invited us, Cafer Erol Turkish delights also blew the team’s minds. I am sure triple distilled rakı from Beylerbeyi will also rival the Aquavit bottles in their barrack.
Team of the Week:
This year, the European auditions of Bocuse d’Or will take place on 23-24 March in Budapest. Turkish Team is led by Chef Emre İnanır, who will compete on behalf of Turkey. He went through a strict preparation with the support of the Metro group in Turkey. The team consists of Turkey Bocuse d’Or academy president Mehmet Gök, team coach Vedat Demir and comis Eray Eren. The two main ingredients this year are venison and potatoes. Chefs will prepare the venison using sour cream, duck liver and cottage cheese. For the potato plate, they will choose one of Coronada, Madison or Anuschka potato varieties in advance and can only use eggs and dairy products as animal protein. Chef Emre İnanır has become the new chef of Tuğra Restaurant, in the Çırağan Palace Kempinski. To be honest, he has a very heavy burden on his shoulders to represent Turkey as the chief of Tuğra, one of the foremost outlets of Turkish cuisine in Istanbul. We wish him all the success!