Two years in the making, Copenhagen restaurant Alchemist is opening its massive Lord of the Rings-like bronze doors to the public. Behind them awaits a whole new approach to dining – a holistic cuisine. Art, drama, gastronomy and spectacular visuals blend into one all-encompassing multisensory experience at the latest addition to Copenhagen’s culinary scene. Alchemist is the brainchild of Chef Rasmus Munk, who stirred up a storm already at the first incarnation of Alchemist in 2015 – where a cavalcade of politically charged dishes were served up to 15 diners a night at a tiny dark and mysterious gastro bar. You can read my review of Alchemist 1.0 here. Read on for more information on how to book a table at Alchemist 2.0 …
Alchemist 2.0 Finally Re-Opens on July 4th
Now, after almost two years of spending his workdays at a construction site, Munk is finally ready to launch the new, 20 times bigger, Alchemist. The new Alchemist, or Alchemist 2.0 if you want, re-opens on July 4th, 2019. With it, he aims to push the borders when it comes to the concept of fine dining.
– The fundamental formula of the restaurant meal has changed very little in the last 100 years – it basically works according to the same script everywhere. When I started to investigate how theatre can enrich gastronomy together with our Dramaturge Louise Rahr Knudsen it dawned on me how similar the dramaturgy of a restaurant meal is to that of theatre. It made so many things in my identity as a chef make sense, says Rasmus Munk.
Although there will be performers in the restaurant, the guests won’t be participating in any theatrics. The core of the place is still sitting down and dining – in a more or less traditional sense. Most of the drama actually happens on the plates, where layers of subtext and research line most of the 50 “impressions” on the menu – commenting on serious issues like gavage, food waste, and plastic pollution as well as delivering humoristic nods to both Andy Warhol and Casper the friendly ghost.
The drama is further enhanced by the three-story restaurant’s interior design. A planetarium dome with a diameter of 18 meters constitutes the main dining room at the heart of the restaurant. Guests will dine at a winding bar, surrounded by stunning views, for example, an indoor rendition of the aurora borealis. Another room in the 2.000 square meter space is taken up by an installation by NYC-graffiti artist Lady AIKO with the aim to convey the ambiance and multicultural vibe of New York, and a light and sound installation takes diners through a maze of LED-lights, that in the end comments on the struggles of the LGBTQ-community.
How to Book a Table at Alchemist 2.0
- Alchemist is located on Refshaleøen at Refshalevej 173c, 1432 Copenhagen, Denmark, in a warehouse where The Royal Danish Theatre used to build and store their back drops.
- The menu consists of 50 “impressions” and can be accompanied by one of three different wine pairings or one of two non-alcoholic beverage pairings mainly focusing on kombucha, water kefir, and tea.
- The sonic identity of Alchemist is created by music producer and composer Lars Bork Andersen with the composition “A voyage of sound through mystical spaces”.
- The owners of Alchemist are Rasmus Munk and former CEO of Saxo Bank, Lars Seier Christensen – who is the majority owner.
- Chef Rasmus Munk designed and drew the new Alchemist himself back in 2016. Architect Michael Duncalf of Duncalf Ltd (UK) got involved at the end of 2017.
- The interior at Alchemist is contemporary with a high focus on aesthetics, art, and technology, far away from the color palette and the interior styles that characterize a traditional restaurant.
- An evening at Alchemist will take between 4 to 5 hours depending on each individual guest/party.
- Alchemist seats 40 guests in one seating per evening. Guests arrive one party at a time from 6 pm to approx. 9.30 pm.
- Wine Director Helle Hasting has curated Alchemist’s extensive wine list. The three-story wine cellar holds about 10,000 bottles of wine.
- Key staff include Head Chef & Co owner Rasmus Munk, General Manager Lykke Metzger, Wine Director Helle Hasting, Head of Alchemist Taste Lab Louise Beck Brønnum, Dramaturg Louise Rahr Knudsen, and Director of Public Relations Katja Seerup Clausen.
Holistic Cuisine – A New Kitchen
Munk himself has named this new style of dining Holistic Cuisine. Pressed to describe the experience with one word he chooses “filmic.” His wish for the future of Alchemist is simple – and far-reaching. Holistic Cuisine was initially conceived and formulated by Munk during spring 2018. Rasmus’ motivation for formulating Holistic Cuisine now comes from a personal desire to articulate the approach he has cultivated at Alchemist for the past two years that extends further than techniques, (food) culture and traditions.
– I hope we will set things in motion. I want Alchemist to comment on the present and create something that can resound further than the restaurant industry. I want people to eat – and then think, says Munk.
Oxford Dictionary defines the word “Holistic” as “considering a whole thing or being to be more than a collection of parts” and ‘Cuisine’ as “a style of cooking”. When combined, the two words draw upon elements from the world of gastronomy, theatre, and art, as well as science, technology, and design in order to create complete sensory dining experiences.
The holistic dining experience is multi-layered starting on the plate with tastiness, high-quality ingredients, and skillful preparation. It then extends beyond the plate to the immediate surroundings; the physical appearance and presence of the room and its interior. And finally, it transcends time and space and is likely to initiate and support the debate on social and ethical issues.
When designing holistic dining experiences, the creator is required to focus beyond the plate and take the tangible and intangible factors that together make up the entire meal into consideration. The most distinguished task of the Holistic Cuisine is to provide guests with moving and extraordinary dining experiences.
- Encompasses dining experiences that stimulate and interact with all five senses by making use of elements from theatre, art, science, and technology.
- Challenges the limits of the meal through innovative thinking, curiosity and a persistent desire to break new grounds.
- Initiates and supports the debate on social and ethical issues.
- Provides knowledge and insight on societies and cultures beyond one’s own.
- Manifests respect and financial fairness towards everything and everyone involved in the farm to table process.
- Is created with respect to sustainability and biodiversity.
- Wakes up memories and stir up emotional responses by drawing upon personal as well as common historical and cultural recollections.