More than high-skilled cooks, many chefs are proving to be savvy investors who know how to shake the restaurant industry with new (casual) food concepts and also spot promising talents and invest in them.
Danish chef René Redzepi, from acclaimed Noma, for example, has bet on some of the talents that emerge in his kitchen and given a chance for them to take off on their own. It was so with his former pupil and head chef Matt Orlando, now chef at Amass, in Copenhagen. Or with Rosio de Sanchez, Noma's former pastry chef, who has just opened Sanchez, a Mexican food restaurant, all belonging to the Noma Group. They have recently opened a restaurant focused on seafood in the Gammelholm neighborhood, Iluka, and even invested in their first project outside the Nordic lands: opened in August, Inua is located on the ninth floor of a commercial building in Tokyo.
But René, one of the most famous chefs in the world, is not the only one. Gaggan Anand, who has opened more than 5 different venues in Bangkok, is betting on new talents that have emerged from his kitchen. Also Alex Atala seems more and more willing to open other businesses than to broaden his food concepts started with D.O.M. Massimo Bottura, Christian Puglisi, Daniel Humm, and a bunch of chefs are riding the same wave: acclaimed professionals who started investing in new restaurants and are not just betting on the “flagship” businesses that made them gain notable international fame.
"Chefs' Satellite Spots" is a new series of articles published by Fine Dining Lovers in order to map and introduce some of these alternative restaurants led or owned by the best chefs around the world. Get to know some of them that are worth your visit. This is our first stop, all around Europe.
Chef behind it: René Redzepi, from Noma
Type of cuisine: New Nordic nosh in a casual mood
Opened in: 2017
More than being one of the most acclaimed restaurants in the world, Noma has become a huge group, which manages a number of restaurants, almost all in Copenhagen, the city where it was born – and from where it has changed the whole panorama of world gastronomy by introducing us to New Nordic cuisine. But in the last few years – especially in recent months – the Noma Group has started to invest in new concepts, expanding its operations.
The group is also behind 108, one of the most successful concepts they have created in Copenhagen. Located in a revamped warehouse and led by chef Kristian Baumann (ex-Noma alumni, of course), 108 is wowing the world's critics and food fans who visit the Danish capital.
With a lovely view of the city's canal quarter, the restaurant has a casual atmosphere: a gray internal room with high ceiling, an industrial touch, wooden tables and clerks wearing navy blue aprons. The food served is very influenced by Noma creations: expect fermentations, foraged berries, pickles, and a stunning plating. Some examples include a lobster tail served with lobster butter sauce and flowers or a salad made from herbs with almond oil sorbet and roasted seaweed.
Or even more unusual preparations, such as a rausu kombu ice cream with Belgium caviar or a sliced radish served with salted green strawberries, wild roses, and a fennel and squash broth. Awarded already with one Michelin star, the restaurant still has a café, called 108 Corner, where one can drink a great cup of coffee (with beans selected by famous barista Tim Wendelboe) and a piece of delicious sourdough bread. A lean menu offers quick options also for lunch and dinner, and there are dishes for any time of day to taste while admiring the movement of the city's many bikes through tall window panes.
Type of cuisine: Globe-trotter with Italian references
Opened in: 2018
Gastronomy is in “fashion” – and the fashion world is more than ever closer to creating intersections with food. This relationship has grown even more, at least since Massimo Bottura, the most prestigious Italian chef in the food scene, was invited to run a restaurant at Gucci Gardens, the Italian fashion house's museum in Florence.
The head chef of Osteria Francescana – the world's No. 1 restaurant in the 50 Best list and three-starred by Michelin Guide –, Bottura has created for Gucci an all-day food space as dictates the current moment of gastronomy: dishes served from breakfast to dinner, with innovative recipes created exclusively by him taking into account the flavors and novelties that he sees and tastes around the world during his (many) travels. “It's the menu of a chef in transit”, he says.
Gucci Osteria, as the restaurant is called, gathers comfort food dishes such as Parmigiano Reggiano's tortellini, made with the famous cheese from the chef’s homeland, Emilia-Romagna, a Peruvian toast and even an oriental-accented pork belly sandwich. “Since the Renaissance, Florence has always been a center of cultural exchanges, and I wanted to think about this aspect of the city to create the Gucci Osteria menu”, he explains.
Gucci Garden is located inside the 14th-century Palazzo della Mercanzia, and in the modern green-walled, 50-seat room, it is also possible to taste Bottura’s high-end interpretations of popular dishes, such as a hot dog and a burger – served in a pink cardboard box. It is a fashion museum, after all.
Manfreds & Vin
Chef behind it: Christian Puglisi, from Relæ
Type of cuisine: farm-to-table approach in a modern wine bar
Opened in: 2012
When he decided to open Relæ on the residential street Jægersborggade, in Copenhagen, chef Christian Puglisi had no idea that he would transform the neighborhood of Norrebro – and even his own career. After Relæ, which has a Michelin star, the street has become a cool spot in the city, attracting shops, cafes, and other hip businesses. So he himself decided to cross the street, to the corner right opposite Relæ, to bet on a modern wine bar, which he named Manfreds. With well-prepared recipes and a wine cellar with great options (many of them made by natural winemaking), the venue is a mix of pub and a Parisien café.
Manfreds is a restaurant closely connected to the organic and sustainable concepts – as are the other businesses ran by Puglisi, by the way. Its ingredients (90% - 100% organic) come from the farm maintained by the chef in the town of Lejre (called Farm of Ideas) and the every-day-harvested vegetables are cooked as fresh as possible to the guests. “We believe that our fields should inspire and instruct our menu. Therefore, you can always expect a diversified and interesting menu when dining at Manfreds – just as you would expect the same from the fields on a farm”, says their website presentation.
More than a tasting menu (called “chef's choice”, with 7-8 dishes), they also serve a la carte options, mainly composed of small plates to be shared Family-style: from a sweet corn with herb and garlic butter to a braised Swiss chard in tomato sauce and paprika – not to mention Manfreds' famous beef tartar, served with cress and rye bread. The wine list also tries to be as uncomplicated as possible, with a selection of wines that ranges from dry, fruity, mineral or crisp, among other easy descriptions. At Manfreds, food must be fun, he says – and it is.
Type of cuisine: Latin American with a Basque twist
Opened in: 2017
Located in the De Gros neighborhood, a hip region in San Sebastián, in the Basque Country, Topa Sulkadería is Andoni Luis Aduriz’ homage to Latin America cuisine. The renowned chef, known for his work in the last two decades as the head of the two-Michelin-starred innovative restaurant Mugaritz (which took the No. 9 spot in the 50 Best list this year), took his time to finally create a new business concept. He was thinking of a new venue that would be popular, party-centric and affordable in many ways. The answer came up with Topa.
Since he fell in love with Latin American flavors, he got thinking about the development of Latin America cuisine and found out there wasn’t a restaurant that dealt with it more widely, not only focusing in the continent countries. As Spanish culture greatly influenced the cuisine of those countries that were colonized by Spain, he thought it would be interesting to think the other way round: how Latin America had and could still influence Spanish food – or Basque, more specifically. At Topa, he proposes a “contact cuisine”, as he says, a mixture of Basque ingredients and Latin American recipes, cooking habits, and techniques. “It's the meeting of two different worlds through gastronomy”, the restaurant's website explains.
It makes sense, not only in the name (Topa in Basque, in Castilian Spanish and in some indigenous languages means “meeting point”) but especially in the menu, that brings a version of taco al pastor (here called as tacotalo), quesadillas, empanadas and other recipes with Basque ingredients. There are also ceviches, tiraditos, and even an aguacate cooked in a charcoal grill. The restaurant also has a very Latin atmosphere, with a decòr full of bright colors and even a lively soundtrack. According to Aduriz, it is supposed to be a latina party, with great food and great drinking options, from Spanish sangria, to Brazilian caipirinha and even Peruvian/Chilean piscos. A very lively party – no one could say otherwise.