Warm hospitality is the new luxury

Two experiences in Copenhagen. In two very different restaurants: Noma and Geranium. With a common feature

11-02-2019
The complete team at René Redzepi’s Noma 

The complete team at René Redzepi’s Noma 

Copenhagen, Denmark. Early January. Everyone is back to work after the Christmas holidays. Even here, in the middle of the icy wind blowing over Jutland, the warmth of Danish hospitality warms up the spirits… and the body too. 

Copenhagen. One of the world capitals of design. And one of the world capitals of food and restaurants, like Paris, Milan, the Basque Country. This was not the case in the past. Nobody would have dared to compare Copenhagen to Bilbao or Paris, foodwise.

The private dining room at Noma

The private dining room at Noma

Then one fine day René Redzepi, a young chef of Albanian descent, appears on the scene. He starts to investigate and codify what soon became the "New Nordic Cuisine", rediscovering fish, seafood, musk, lichen, fermentation, cooking and marinating techniques that were disappearing.

So here we are now at Noma 2.0, the brand new restaurant of Redzepi, on the first day after its opening, with the punctuality of a pupil. And the new location certainly does not disappoint our expectations: a series of greenhouses, one after the other, surrounded by cabbages planted on one side of the sea in front of the Danish capital, but outside the town, in the middle of nowhere.

Between dining room and kitchen at Noma

Between dining room and kitchen at Noma

This feeling of nature, sea, sky, stars and they icy wind only increases the desire to sit in the wood and glass greenhouses, in the warm kitchen. This is Noma 2.0. We sit, and the show begins. But we will not comment on the dishes (marvellous and different, once again...). Dishes like...
Marinated crayfish 
Sea urchin on barley 
Cod tongue Schnitzel 
Gel of sand crab and pine cones 
And much more...

Sea urchin on barley 

Sea urchin on barley 

Cod tongue Schnitzel 

Cod tongue Schnitzel 

Instead, we’ll comment on a very special aspect: the service. Indeed, the real innovation made by Redzepi is also in the service: young guys from all around the world, Italians (there are five, including sous chef Riccardo Canella from Padua, who was our guide during the culinary journey), as well as French, Brazilian, German and English left their country to arrive in Denmark to train and learn the art of cooking and serving.

So what’s new about this, you might wonder. There’s plenty of novelty in the way you are served. The service is warm, friendly, almost tender, smiling, close. No more formal elegance. No more dining room hierarchies. No more icy rigour and service rules. Smiles and a warm kindness have replaced the cold etiquette.

Let’s be clear: it’s not like they’re patting on your back or making fun with food, but there’s warmth, warmth, warmth and again more warmth. Of course, you might think this restaurant has always been a “warm” place.

The dining room and kitchen team at Geranium

The dining room and kitchen team at Geranium

Well, the following night instead, we dined in one of the most awarded restaurants in the world: Rasmus Kofoed’s Geranium, three Michelin stars and three Bocuse d'or (bronze, silver and gold...). Again, the same story.

Of course, the dishes in this case were more "designed", the chinaware and the interior design had a higher standard, but the "tone" of the service was the same, compared to the place: warmth, attention and dedication. And even in this case, an extraordinary menu, a Northern three-star. From Dried mussels, celery, sol and juice of smoked yogurt, to Roasted winter vegetables, smoked eggs and melted cheese, to Wild duck, blueberry leaves, juniper and aromatic herbs.

The preparation of Dried mussels, celery, sol and juice of smoked yogurt

The preparation of Dried mussels, celery, sol and juice of smoked yogurt

So this Nordic experience at the beginning of the year, both at Noma andGeranium, confirmed an hypothesis I hold very dear: it’s not just the dining room rules that alone create a good relationship with the guest, whether you’re in a normal restaurant or a very famous restaurant with multiple stars.

And the finished dish 

And the finished dish 

It’s not enough to know how to serve and remove a plate, how to pour wine and entertain guests and take their orders. The hardest part of what’s necessary for a good dining service cannot be taught or learnt: it’s about heart and passion. The passion that, thanks to their fame and their international acknowledgements, René Redzepi and Rasmus Kofoed teach to young people from all around the world in Copenhagen.


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