The Nordic Food Lab can be found (eventually) in a small grey houseboat moored opposite Noma. It was set up by Rene Redzepi and his business partner Claus Meyer and is, according to head chef Ben Reade, ‘a not for profit organisation dedicated to the creative and scientific exploration of deliciousness’. I popped in yesterday and the kitchen was going full steam in preparation for an upcoming gastronomic science conference. Mackerel was being marinated in samphire powder (above) and sealed in bags to be cooked 12 hours later at 50 degrees for just five minutes. Ben was finishing the marinating process and just about to move on to a huge vat of mackeral guts which he was planning to turn into fish sauce. German and Italian ‘stagieres’ (interns) were preparing more fillets and watching over a lamb neck stock. This place is an international kitchen and very much an open book. As Ben says, “our first job is to explore and then to disseminate knowledge.” Chefs from around the world are constantly visiting, emailing and tweeting them questions, and every one receives an answer. At the moment the lab is researching indigenous micro-organisms and how they can influence food fermenation and maybe even develop whole new flavours. Ben is preparing sterile soy sauce pots to place up trees, on beaches and in forests which will be studied for natural fermentation, development of sugars, acidity and so on.
This place really is a curious chef’s playground and I can imagine it would be an incredible place to work. But….it’s all way way beyond my food terms of reference so I eventually left them to it and went off to explore my own version of deliciousness at a much less cerebral but still very cool little kitchen just around the corner from the lab. Sweet Treat serves the best hot chocolate imaginable, plays old vinyl records all day, and serves only cakes, chocolate and coffee. My kind of cafe. Then it was back over the bridge to beautiful Nyhavn, one last little piece of smushi (cross between sushi and smørrebrød) at the Royal Cafe and to the hotel to pack for home. Copenhagen really is one cool city and I am so very grateful to Visit Denmark for inviting me to come and enjoy the very best of it. I’ll certainly be back (one day) and hopefully next time with Tim and the kids.