Excellent gourmet cuisine in the culinary north of Europe
BY LARA VIRIOT
(Published in The Produktkulturmagazin issue Q1 2019)
The plates at the Geranium in Copenhagen are little works of art. Strong colours, floral arrangements and fine shapes. Every dish appears as a well thought-through story told by both nature and art. The Michelin three-star restaurant is an inspiring place for people who love food, pure tastes, and the culinary pleasure of Nordic cuisine. It is probably because of the deeply rooted passion of chef Rasmus Kofoed that the Geranium established such an institution in the culinary world.
At Geranium, nature is actually everywhere: wooden furniture, little bouquets that seem as though freshly picked from the surrounding meadow, and the light and airy atmosphere of the interior. So, for experiencing the closeness to nature, visitors do not even need to look out of the windows of the Geranium restaurant. It is, in fact, situated on the eighth floor of the National Football Stadium in Fælledparken – the Common Gardens – in the centre of Copenhagen. From there, visitors have a great view over the treetops, windmills, and the city’s green copper roofs, thereby connecting the urbane and the natural. This balance is reflected by the dishes served, which mainly comprise seasonal, organic ingredients and wild herbs, while still representing the world of modern fine dining. We spoke with Geranium chef Rasmus Kofoed about inspiration, nature, and work-life balance.
You grew up in the countryside. To what extent did that influence your decision to become a chef?
It wasn’t so much the fact that I grew up in the countryside and near a forest that influenced my decision to become a chef as much as it was my love of cooking and the foraging trips I undertook with my mother, during which I saw the beauty of nature and ways to incorporate that into our food. I have many fond memories surrounding food from my childhood, the smell of smoke coming from the grill to the fresh, juicy taste of cherries straight from the tree. It was when I started cooking for my brothers and sisters to help my mother that I realised I really enjoyed creating and being in the kitchen.
The environment and sustainability are important topics of our time. How do you select your ingredients?
Both at Geranium and at home, I use local, organic and biodynamic ingredients from Denmark whenever possible, which is around 95 per cent of the time. We have such a wealth of beautiful vegetables, fruits, meat and seafood in Scandinavia that I prefer to celebrate and honour them through my cooking. We work with local farmers and foragers to ensure the freshest ingredients which are in season.
Please tell us where you find your inspiration.
I find inspiration in many places: at Geranium, with my family, in nature, in museums, in the smiling faces of guests who visit us. Creating, honouring nature, preparing something that moves someone are all great feelings. I have the best job in the world.
How is this reflected in the composition of your dishes?
It’s reflected in the vegetables I use, the plates, many of which are co-designed with local artists and the composition on the plate. We have a dessert called “Naked Tree”, which was inspired by the beautiful trees in the park beneath the restaurant.
What is the story behind the name “Geranium”?
Much like a restaurant, geraniums are green, living, fragrant, sometimes colourful and some varieties are edible. It just seemed like a great name for how I wanted the restaurant to be; a place where people feel alive, healthy, well cared for and a place where they can leave the outside world behind for a few hours.
To date, you are the only person in the world to have won bronze, silver and gold Bocuse d’Or medals. How does this affect your work?
Winning a Bocuse d’Or hasn’t affected my work per se, but it’s something that I worked very hard for many years to achieve. That same discipline and attention to detail is something which is also a part of Geranium. It was an incredible journey and I learned a lot about myself along the way.
How and where do you recharge your batteries in your free time?
I love to recharge my batteries by spending time with my family in nature. I love to visit the Danish island of Samø in summer. I also play football every week with the chefs. It’s a great way for us to bond, let off some steam and get some exercise.
What is your favourite food to serve at home?
We focus on local, seasonal vegetables at home. My guilty pleasure is dark chocolate.
What further goals do you have in mind?
I always have different ideas and projects in the works. Family and work-life balance is important to me, keeping my team motivated, healthy and working at a high and consistent standard is a daily goal. Maintaining our three Michelin stars is a priority, but not something I spend about, as having the highest quality and performing our best is part of we do. I’m working on a few personal book projects when I can find the time and keeping fit.
Rasmus Kofoed is a Danish chef who runs the famous three-star Michelin restaurant Geranium in Copenhagen together with Søren Ledet. In 2005, he won a Bocuse d’Or bronze medal. In 2007, he was awarded a silver medal and in 2011 he was presented with a gold medal in the same competition.
Picture credit © Claes Bech Poulsen