So, in late March this year, I packed my bags and ventured out to the Danish capital. I had a rough itinerary to help form my expectations but really didn’t know what to expect. I started with 10 fellow stagiers and was promptly informed to expect this number to dwindle as the weeks went by. I was also informed that rarely did English people complete the full stage… interesting. So the bar was raised.
Having spent the first few weeks picking herbs and helping to plate for the private dining room, dishes such as Soft boiled egg with Spring Herbs, and their signature Beef Tartar with Ants, I was thrilled to then spend two solid weeks out foraging in the Danish countryside with their resident full time forager Michael, or Mikkel as they all call him, rather incorrectly, as his name he informed us was and always had been the very Anglic version and thus pronunciation of Michael.
We went to forests where we picked wood sorrel, beech leaves and collected ants. We went to woodland clearings where we found hidden fields of ramsons, cowslip flowers, morels and moss. We went to beaches for portulac, scurvy grass, sea beets, beach cabbage, beach peas. We collected rose petals to make rose oil for the winter, salad burnette, goosefoot and many other wild flowers and herbs to decorate and flavor the dishes back at the restaurant. A learning experience like no other. All helped by the snoozes that could be taken in the foraging van between destinations helping to catch up on the sleep lost from working those long restaurant hours.
Back at the restaurant, myself and the other English girl Rosie then spent the next week cooking staff meal for the 60 strong members of staff who needed two meals a day. The idea behind this family meal stems from Rene’s strong philosophy that staff should be fed two delicious and healthy meals every day. The joy also of having such an international crew is that you cook food from your home so everyone eats varied and multicultural food that could be from absolutely anywhere. Watch Rene HERE describe this amazing offering. We responded to requests from the other staff who wanted a Roast Dinner and with the help of Chef Sam Miller, managed to rustle up Roast Beef with all the trimmings for our Saturday night finale. We also put forward Bangers and Mash one day much to the excitement of Rene who proclaimed in the way that he always did, imitating accents wherever he could, ‘Oh! How Wonderful Girls – Bangers and Mash!’ We were certainly scared from the outset though that staff meal would be a flop – Rene casts his critical eye over all the food and indeed eats it. Cooking for the worlds best chef – who knew? The first experience I had of seeing two young lads cooking the staff meal was pretty petrifying. They had rustled up some white fish – baked, plain. Some vegetables and Salad. It was fairly basic and uninspiring, which I hate to write because when someone cooks you a meal, you are grateful. But it has to be written to explain just what unfolded. Rene cast his eye across the spread, took a mouthful, looked over and asked what it was. He proceeded to cut through to the AM kitchen, where the food had been prepared to demand an explanation from the two young cooks, asking, ‘What is this? What the f*** is this?’ and upon hearing the stuttered realization of a response that the food was not up to par, proceeded to explain why the food they had on offer was just not acceptable to the 60 members of staff who had been on their feet all day. I cut a lot from that story, it scared me too much. Thank God our week went well. Some of our food even got instagrammed – the ultimate praise!
Jun’s Garfish Roe, Turbot, White Asparagus and Egg Yolk cured in Beef Garum, one of the most spectacular dishes that was put forward.
Red currant and green strawberry
Moss and cep
Peas and radishes
Pickled and smoked quails egg
Flatbread with wild roses .... (my standout snack by far - simple but incredibly good)
Grilled cucumber and fudge
White cabbage and samphire
Caramelised milk and cod liver
AEble skiber, lovage and parsley
Burnt leek and cod roe
Shrimp and goosefoot, radish and yeast
White asparagus, black currant leaves and barley
Turbot roe and sour cherries
Beef tartar and ants
Lobster and nasturtium
Beetroot, sloe berries and aromatic herbs
Cured egg yolk, potato and elderflower
Turbot and nasturtium cream and wood sorrel
Rhubard and sorrel, creme fraiche and spanish chervil
Raspberries and rye
The whole experience was life changing. It was eye opening, exhausting, incredible and fundamentally altered the way I look at things. I’ll never forget how much I learnt out there.