Rasmus Kofoed somehow manages to do it all. Always. And if you take a closer look, it quickly becomes clear: His recipe for success consists of iron discipline, strong will and inflexible perseverance, with a pinch of ease. The Dane’s restaurant Geranium is currently in second place on the list of the 50 best restaurants.
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As you probably know, restaurants such as Massimo Bottura’s Osteria Francescana or the Roca brothers’ El Celler de Can Roca the Roca have reached great heights and have been on the list of legends for some time now. In other words, spots on the 50 Best list are newly allocated each year. Kofoed’s fellow countryman René Redzepi currently heads the much-cited list with Noma. He will be summoned to Olympus in 2022 at the awards ceremony in July. This poses the question: Will the current number two even become number one?
Kofoed leaves nothing to chance
This is a thought that Rasmus Kofoed has surely already dared to hope for. And because he’s not a man who ever leaves things to chance, he’s added an extra layer of perfection to his menu, which is already one of the most meticulous and richly detailed on the planet Dishes like “Osietra Kaviar Gold with lightly smoked sunflower seeds and pickled walnut leaves” or “squid with dried black currant, citrus-infiltrated herbs and scallops emulsion” are so beautiful you almost prefer to frame them rather than eat them.
How many hours does it take to tease the exact likeness of a clam, consisting of warm potato cake, nutmeg and yogurt, out of the molds? Probably several dozen game halves. Located in the soccer stadium complex at Telia Park in Copenhagen, the restaurant has been spruced up and refurbished to the most modern standards. It gleams with a winning look, ready to become a worthy best restaurant in the world.
Lockdowns used for optimizing and perfecting
The Dane has also definitely spiced things up visually. The colors are brighter, and all sorts of Danish plants are illustrated on the walls. The tall chef’s hats that Kofoed and team wore daily as proud Bocuse d’Or winners even before the pandemic are apparently tucked away in the closet. Now, snappy, dynamic, friendly people dressed in dark, plain uniforms or white chef’s jackets work at Geranium. They provide wine favorites, albeit the high quality kind. Paired with this, Kofoed and his team do not merely serve classic cuisine, but rather perfection. Like the conglomerate of “cold cucumber juice, smoked snail eggs and garden parsley,” which couldn’t be more beautiful to look at, nor more deliberate in its choice of ingredients.
Yes, everything looks like the 47-year-old finally wants to know it all. That Kofoed is not a supporter of the Nordic movement and its regional radius, and that he and Redzepi work in the same city but are by no means working shoulder to shoulder, is well known. Kofoed wants to know once and for all: Can a cuisine like his, with dishes like “turbot and Norway lobster with pine nuts and tarragon,” really be named the best cuisine in the world? If you win this award, you rise to the highest echelons of the best chefs of all time, virtually guaranteeing a full reservations book for decades to come. The “dark chocolate and Jerusalem artichoke reduction” and “frozen raspberry juice and mild licorice” are already delightfully saying “yes!”
Two faces one goal
But Rasmus Kofoed has another side to him. For this, he actually invited us to Copenhagen for a taste and talk. Location: Once again the upper room of the Telia Parken stadium. Kofoed smiles his shy smile. In his black batik T-shirt, his well-toned forearms and leather wrist bands are clearly visible (in Geranium, such body adornments always disappear beneath the serious chef’s jacket). Søen Ledet, his business partner and host, also suddenly reveals a tattoo. Even if the dress code has changed all of a sudden, the team is the same as in the number-one contender restaurant. The guest room planned for the new project alone piques your curiosity: colorful pastel shades and wood reign supreme. No tablecloths, a couple of meadow flowers.
This vegan nine-course menu leaves nothing to be desired
What comes next is Rasmus Kofoed’s idea of “plant-based,” or vegan, cuisine. The result is unpretentious – as far as this is possible with a team in one of the best three-star restaurants in the world – and superb.
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The “celeriac in tempura with truffles and mushrooms” melts on your tongue and is paired with an unbelievably fresh pear celery and sage juice. Next up is the spectacular dish “potatoes and cabbage with pickled onions and parsley”. So simple. So brilliant. Hunger gives way, but you aren’t stuffed, and the body doesn’t feel heavy.
The dishes this morning never left us craving meat, fish or dairy products. Everything is just right: acidity, balance, spiciness, finish, satisfaction, happiness. Not to mention that sigh of contentment that comes when the mind and body realize they are being gratified in one of the best possible ways in the world right now. The next course is “beetroot beef,” served with horseradish, capers and cress. Once “red lentils with tomato, strawberry and thyme” and “chamomile and chocolate ice cream” are served up, the nine courses of fantastic vegan cuisine are complete.
Healthy food makes you happy – Kofoed goes vegan
“For many years, I dreamed of opening a vegetarian restaurant. My mother is a vegetarian and ever since I was a little boy, she has taught me how nutritious and delicious plant-based food can be,” says the master craftsman. For this reason, the new concept – initially conceived as a pop-up – is also named after his mother: Angelika. An homage. However, it is also a part of Rasmus, as he stresses.
Kofoed says he’s both Geranium and Angelika, although it does at least seem like he’s having a tad more fun at Angelika right now. “I used to always cook with my mother, and at some point it became a creative profession.”
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In short, this is about childhood memories. That’s why good, healthy food is fun and tastes good. He says, “I don’t want to convert anyone to healthy eating, but I do want to show them that seasonal vegetable food can make you happy.” And that can be done here at the Angelika in any case – certainly also thanks to the most refined three-star techniques.
Both concepts benefit
While this is impressively showcased in the new concept, it in turn rubs off on the renowned one: astonishingly few animal products are served at Geranium as well. That’s also a part of him, says Kofoed. He always cooks what he likes to eat. How much you believe him or not, remains to be seen. The fact that he is not only a master of his craft, but also one who knows exactly how to play games is a given. Speaking of sport, the Dane often comes up with the best ideas for dishes while out running, he says. The plants and vegetation he runs past inspire him.
The grand finale
It may be a coincidence that someone who (even if he doesn’t admit it) wants to climb to the top of the 50 Best, is launching such a pop-up right now in 2022. That it has to do with Daniel Humm’s vegan shift at Eleven Madison in New York is certainly a vague assumption one could make. However, it doesn’t matter. With the perfection Rasmus Kofoed now brings to the plate at both Geranium and Angelika, the coveted title would be justified in any case. In July 2022, after the S. Pellegrino 50 Best Restaurants awards ceremony, we’ll know sure. As will he.
- 47-year-old Rasmus Kofoed completed his culinary training at the Hotel d’Angleterre in Copenhagen.
- As head chef at Krogs Fiskerestaurant, he got to know his current business partner at Geranium, Søen Ledet.
- In 2005, the Danish chef took part in the Bocuse d’Or cooking competition for the first time. At that time, he won bronze.
- In 2007, he opened the first Geranium at Kongens Have with Ledet and won second place at the Bocuse d’Or.
- In 2010, they opened Geranium at its current location.
- Kofoed won the 2011 Bocuse d’Or competition in Copenhagen.
- The Geranium has held three Michelin stars since 2016 and is in second place on the list of the 50 best restaurants.