Matt Orlando, from San Diego, California, 41. Since July 2013 he’s patron chef at Amass, in Copenhagen
«There are different reasons why this restaurant differs from other restaurant. One of these is the fact that normally your experience begins once you cross the door. At Amass it starts when you leave home, or your hotel, because arriving here, in this corner of Copenhagen, is a small adventure».
These are the words of Californian Matt Orlando, patron chef at restaurant Amass, which is indeed in a rather secluded part of Copenhagen. It overlooks the lagoon, and is a relatively short distance from the new Noma, hence also not too far from the old location of Renè Redzepi’s old restaurant, where Orlando was sous chef and executive chef.
The dining room seen from above
At the table
Amass was opened in July 2013, little under five years ago, by the then executive chef at Noma: «I spent two periods at Noma. First as sous chef. Then my wife – who’s Danish – and I decided to move to New York. After a couple of years, while we were discussing the idea of returning to Copenhagen, René called me, and asked me to return as head chef. I accepted, and said I would guarantee to work for three years, but my plan was to open my own restaurant. Redzepi was as helpful as usual, he supported me all along».
The kitchen overlooking the dining room
«When we first opened, five years ago, I thought I had a clear idea of what I wanted to do in this restaurant. But then we opened. In boxing gyms there’s a saying: “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face”. See, the first six months were our punch. After that initial phase, winter came, and we stopped for a while. During that break an idea came that we’re still developing: while speaking with the team, a word came up, “responsibility”. We understood it would be a turning point for what we had in mind».
Whipped Zander Roe, Garden Herbs, Toasted Seeds
Potato bread, cream of kale, kale stalks and yogurt, sunflower seed oil
Since Matt Orlando and his team first started to experiment on sustainability, the restaurant production of food waste decreased by 75%. And the research continues: «It’s a very significant result, but what’s most beautiful is that by trying to recuperate food waste, we’ve discovered new flavours: for instance, kale stalks, when fermented, dried and powdered, taste like sea weeds. And while initially this research was a prompt for our creativity, today it defines it. We start from food waste. Every dish starts from the idea of using what we call by-products. Only then do we decide which fish to use, which vegetable to pair. It’s like cooking backwards».
White asparagus grilled and marinated in camomile, lobster oil
Snipefish marinated in miso made with the by-products of the beer brewed at the restaurant, green tomatoes in brine, fresh horseradish
At Amass they certainly have fun. And not just those in the kitchen. Guests have even more fun. They might ignore the research behind every dish: if you don’t already know the philosophy behind Orlando’s work, when arriving at the restaurant’s beautiful open-space, when opening the menu, or speaking with the waiters, nothing refers to the goal of sustainability behind every choice made in the kitchen.
Green asparagus, scallop roe, scallop carpaccio
Egg yolk cooked at a low temperature, curdle, broth and capers of garlic
Black pepper biscuit, coffee marshmallow, chocolate
Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso
1432 - Copenhagen
Closed on Sunday and Monday; open at lunchtime only on Friday and Saturday
Tasting menu 695 and 995 Danish krone
Reviews, recommendations and trends from the four corners of the planet, signed by all the authors of Identità Golose
Journalist, based in Milan. At 8 years old, he received a Springsteen record as a gift, and nothing was the same since. Music and food are his passions. Author and broadcaster at Radio Popolare since 1997, since 2014 he became part of the staff of Identità Golose