How does ARoS Food Hall do New Nordic?
The idea of using products from the local farmers is quite simple, and frankly, I can’t think of anywhere else to get it — it just makes sense. Why ship something 2,000 kilometers when you have amazing ingredients right in your backyard? We’re working with farmers who understand this and the importance of seasonality. If asparagus is in-season, the flavor will be amazing. If you get it out of season, you’re going to get the dull cousin of the first. Some people talk about the boundaries this sets up for a kitchen, to only cook with local ingredients… but if you look around we have plenty to choose from. Farm to table seems to have turned from trend to requirement number one for fashionable kitchens — what’s ARoS’s approach?
In my imaginary world, we would have a farm where we spend our days and be one with the food, one with the process. As of now, we don’t have room to do that, so we work really closely with local farms who nurture the ingredients In my imaginary world we would do everything ourselves, we would have a little as if it were their own children, and share the same values we have for food. We do have a rooftop garden where we are growing our own vegetables and herbs. We have a bee hive inside the restaurant where bees can fly in and out of. Every day the team is talking to the bees, checking on the garden… It’s had a huge impact on all of us. The closer we get to the birth of our ingredients, the higher the respect we have for the food we serve.
In a climate such as Denmarks, how does one approach local, seasonal products — especially in the dead of winter?
The difficult part is in the winter. Pickled and cured meat is the answer for that. And once you adopt such a notion, it just becomes little adjustments in the kitchen that become the new normal. But pickling, takes us 20… 30 years back to a process that was much more common. For two generations, we’ve dropped the ball on pickling. But as fads do, it’s reintroduced and it becomes one of the hottest things to ferment your produce again. Those gap years weren’t good for us though; we’re starting from the ground up — going back to the roots. I’ve been sifting through pickling recipe cards from my grandmother that she used to use — the learning experience has been quite nostalgic, actually.
Visually, the food hall is stunning. What’s the concept behind the design?
The new version of the food hall was set up last September (2015) and the idea with it was to actually put the food and the entire process on display, just like the galleries in the museum. The food then becomes like art and more of a visual experience that can be enjoyed before our guests dive into the tastes. We worked really closely with the museum’s Director on incorporating the same philosophy of the museum into the experience here at the restaurant — and the concept really turned out pretty spectacular.
Just like the art at ARoS, the meat locker here is both beautiful and provacative — what’s the story behind it?
All the meat we get is from a little organic, family owned farm. It’s evolved from three or four years ago, when we were getting our ecological certification. We were already working with farms to get eggs and other products, so continuing that same idea with the meat was an easy transition. This process of curing meat really allows us to get closer to the product. Every day we can see our work unfold before us, watching the curing process take its course. We’ve made an agreement with the farm, we’ll take whatever they have for us, and work it into the dishes. It’s provided a great opportunity to get creative and test new processes.
How do we (as non-chefs) insert these concepts into our daily life?
Get to know your food. Meet the people who grow it. The farmer’s markets scene is constantly growing, so it’s becoming easier and easier to buy local. Just like the habits we have chosen to practice in the kitchen, make it a part of your weekly routine to take a trip to the nearest produce stands. The more you do it, the more it just becomes ‘what you do.’
On a more personal note, what made you want to become a chef?
Actually, I thought when I was small that I wanted to be one of two things: a writer or a chef. Turns out, I’m not that good at writing, but I have three cousins that were working as chefs — they were older and living in the big city of Copenhagen, so I automatically thought they were pretty cool. When it came time to finally lunge into a career, it just seemed fitting. A buddy of mine also joined the cause, and we were asigned the same apprenticeship where we spent the next four years learning and laughing at each other’s mistakes.