All about Nordic Food Lab

Starting today, a monthly article out of New nordic cuisine's privileged outpost in Copenhagen

02-11-2012
Nordic Food Lab's entrance in Copenhagen, on a boa

Nordic Food Lab's entrance in Copenhagen, on a boat just in front of René Redzepi's Noma, Lab's founder together with Claus Meyer in 2009. Entirely committed on an open-source research focused on food deliciousness, the Nfl is run by chefs, universitary professors and Yale researchers (photo Zanatta)

One project, which has developed from the recent successes of NNC, has been the establishment by René Redzepi and Claus Meyer of the Nordic Food Lab (NFL). NFL is a non-profit self-governed institution financed by both private companies and government sources. Its purpose is to explore and further the ideals outlined in the "Manifesto for a New Nordic Cuisine" and is dedicated to open-source research for the benefit of the extended Nordic community. Situated just a stone’s throw away from Noma, the laboratory is on a houseboat.

On the right Ben Reade together with NFL director, Michael Bom Frøst

On the right Ben Reade together with NFL director, Michael Bom Frøst

The NFL began in 2009 and despite it’s proximity to Noma, and although there is a history of sharing staff the two are not connected at an organizational level. The NFL is dedicated to the greater Nordic community, not one restaurant. However it can be said that NFL and Noma follow similar ideals in gastronomy, and look to each other for inspiration. NFL is staffed on a daily basis by Head of Culinary Research and Development Benedict Reade and Researcher Joshua Evans. Joshua Joins us from Yale sustainable food project with a background in literature Josh has a passion for sustainable agriculture and study of food systems.

With experience both as a chef and as in the academic field, Ben is the driving creative force behind the lab on a day to day basis, Ben is a graduate from UNISG in Italy and has been working in the kitchen since he was 15. The director of NFL is sensory scientist Michael Bom Frøst, who is also a professor at Copenhagen University. This link to Copenhagen University brings many benefits to the lab, such as access to experts in many fields as well as many inspired students who often come to the lab to collaborate on projects, to learn and share experience. NFL is governed by a board of directors, many of whom are leaders in their respective field, and by an advisory board that guides NFL in its purpos.

Fermentations processes is a big issue at NFL

Fermentations processes is a big issue at NFL

Research is approached in a pragmatic fashion with an overall focus on deliciousness; there is systematic methodology and emphasis on collaboration with other research facilities. The laboratory strives to define cornerstones of gastronomy and subsequently to disseminate the results from this exploration, holding fast to the open source ethos of cooperation, knowledge sharing and transparency of results. NFL seeks to explore both ancient and state-of-the-art techniques with raw materials relevant to NNC, attempting to use available knowledge to develop recipes and systems for long term projects such as those based on various types of fermentation

This research at NFL is focused on practical experimentation on a large variety of foods and themes, whilst changing direction and multitasking constantly. This is an environment organized by chefs and focused on the quest of deliciousness. It is not focused on health, social wellbeing or anything other than finding deliciousness through following the guidelines set out in the Manifesto for a NNC. Although this is the stated aim, it is acknowledged that many of the products and recipes developed have potential as healthy functional foods so that the health benefits are seen as an added bonus but are not the focus of the projects. Health benefits could become a concern in the future.

As NFL recognizes cooking food as a creative occupation, but at the same time is one which occupies space in the scientific sphere, a conscious effort is made to occupy the grey area in the middle, between science and creativity. By taking inspiration from both scientific and artistic disciplines (see FIG. 1.2.2), NFL manages to achieve things which other research facilities, based on only one side of the science/creativity divide, would not be able to attempt. The research which is made available on request or on the webpage nordicfoodlab.org, or through direct contact, aims at inspiring industry, restaurant chefs and home cooks alike, and to have a multi tiered and profound effect on the culinary threads of Nordic fabric.


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Nordic Food Lab

The most interesting experiments held in the Nordic Food Lab in Copenhagen, housed, since 2009, in a boat moored in front of René Redezpi’s Noma