Who is the most decorated chef in the world? How do you even rate that? In terms of total Michelin stars you could argue that it’s France’s Joël Robuchon, who has a whopping 35 stars spread across his 22 restaurants around the world. Obviously, he doesn’t cook in all these restaurants (if he cooks in any at the moment), and his restaurant empire has never interested me that much. I might be going out on a limb here, but I find Denmark’s Rasmus Kofoed of restaurant Geranium to be best qualified for the title most decorated chef in the world.
Bronze, Silver, and Gold in Bocuse d’Or
This year, Rasmus Kofoed and Søren Ledet obtained Denmark’s first ever three Michelin stars. The two co-owners are both operative at Geranium, Ledet as wine and restaurant director and Kofoed as head chef. Their New Nordic fine dining restaurant is currently no. 28 on the The World’s 50 Best Restaurants-list. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, Rasmus Kofoed is also the only chef to ever win both bronze (2005), silver (2007) and gold (2011) medals in the World Chef Championship – Bocuse d’Or. That makes me wonder, which further goals could Kofoed set for himself at this point?
My 4th Visit to Geranium in One Year
I’m fortunate enough to recently have visited Geranium for the 4th time in less than a year. Even better, I finally got to bring Hedda along as a first timer experiencing the spectacular and mind-blowing dishes they serve on the 8th floor of Denmark’s national football stadium. To be honest, I almost enjoyed watching her reactions to this dreamlike restaurant encounter as much as I appreciated the meal. She was equally surprised as I remember being myself when the first snacks arrived: paper-thin Jerusalem artichoke chips shaped like leaves. A new twist to kick off the meal this time was a Geranium Gin & Tonic with sea buckthorn & lemon verbena, prepared right in front of us by the head sommelier and our lovely host this afternoon: Helle Hasting.
A Newly Refurbished Main Dining Room
I love to enjoy long-enduring tasting menus, like the Universe menu at Geranium, for lunch rather than dinner. That’s why we had a 12 PM reservation this day, which also means way better light now in the autumn and winter season. Our Uber Black (for the occasion) had dropped us off outside Geranium, and we entered the anonymous elevator on the ground floor. A few seconds later we arrived at the penthouse eight stories up and was welcomed by Geranium’s director of media relations & special events – Virgina Anne Newton. She took the time to show us around (well, mostly Hedda since I was practically a regular at this point) before she brought us to our table. We were seated in the newly refurbished main dining room. During the summer Geranium was rebuilt to bring the kitchen further into the hall. Now, all guests can enjoy the view of the chefs cooking.
“A childhood memory from Vesterhavet: razor clams.” – Rasmus Kofoed
It was Rasmus himself who brought the dill stones to our table. “Well, now, you might have seen this one before,” he said. “On your plate is cream with juice from horseradish, which gives it a refreshing flavor. The granita is made of frozen juice from pickled dill and cucumbers. Grab your fork to pick up the green stones, dip them in the cream and get a bit of everything in each bite.” Mr. Kofoed also brought the next dish: “A childhood memory from Vesterhavet: razor clams. I found a lot of inspiration in their shape. This one you can eat with the shell!” Needless to say, the shell is a fake, made from dough and painted with squid ink.
Geranium is All About Consistency
Geranium is not the restaurant you go to for the big surprises – apart from the very first visit! To me, it’s all about consistency over time. You know what to expect, and you will get it perfect every time. While Kofoed’s style of cooking and his presentations are clearly New Nordic, the dining room has a much more classic French fine dining atmosphere to it than most other contemporary Copenhagen restaurants. White cloths on the table, waiters in stylish uniforms – some of them wearing suits, and an army-like precision from the front of house. Depending on the number of guests by the table, a group of waiters will line up, both when serving and removing each plate. They get eye contact, and in a sublime synchronized movement, they place or lift the platters at the exact same moment. Remarkably, though, the service never feels stiff.
Treasuring the Classics & Enjoying Some New Dishes
All the snacks we got were classics, but even though I had tasted them before, I treasure them still. Almost as much as I hold dear the bread serving. Ironically, the gluten free bread at Geranium is the best one! Yellow beets, aromatic seeds, with yogurt juice & beach plant oil was the first original dish I got served this afternoon. It was also one of the very best. Delicately pickled to an excellent texture and flavor, and well balanced with the smoked yogurt juice. On the topic of juice: we chose a juice menu to share for this meal and asked for just a few glasses of wine to pair with the food in addition.
Søren Ledet Gets to Play with Fire Again
During my initial Geranium visit, Søren Ledet was having quite the show for us when he prepared a duck tableside. There was no bird on the menu this time, but Mr. Ledet knew how to make a performance still. Once again, he got to play with fire! This time when opening the red wine for the main course – a 2004 Yarra Yerring. In stead of using a wine opener or Coravin, he rolled out a trolley with a very particular kit: An old school heated tong. By placing the red hot metal around the neck of the bottle, and then immediately brushing it with cold water afterward, it makes a clean cut leaving the cork intact.
Rasmus Kofoed is a Dessert Master
In addition to his traditional snacks, Rasmus Kofoed truly shines when he makes desserts. A small bite of beetroot with rhubarb, yogurt & tagetes was presented as a sphere. Not as spectacular as the old “levitating” balls of sea buckthorn that I once had as a starter, but still very nice looking. Simply served on a spoon, and one of the best mouthfuls of the meal. However, the highlight, and both Hedda’s and my favorite dish of the meal was “A walk in the forest.” Wood sorrel & woodruff in a stunning looking presentation with fantastic flavors. The kind that you just want to last and last. Now with a fresh new element: A Michelin star shaped granita!
May the Force be With You!
“May the force be with you,” said the waiter and placed the last dessert in front of us. Another twist on a classic. Usually, you get a skull-shaped dessert called “the end,” but today we got a storm trooper instead. The ingredients are the same, though. A liquorice mousse with a shell you have to crack. Great finish – although, you’re not done! Stil, petits fours to go. Helle asked us to please follow her to the lounge for the final serving of coffee, fresh herb’s tea, and even more sweets. Geranium is a feast that never ends. However, it’s not every day you can celebrate with the most decorated chef in the world!
Have you been to Geranium four times like me, or did this encourage you to make your first visit? Please let me know in a comment below.