“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark” Marcellus famously remarked in Shakespeare's 'Hamlet'. But a new generation of chefs, and one particularly determined critic-turned-entrepreneur with an innovative vision for food, are out to prove him wrong.
“People who submerge themselves into actually developing food have the most interesting perspectives”, says Kasper Fogh, creator and managing editor of the newly founded food-magazine Aorta. As a former food critic, Kasper realized how anyone who has ever told him something interesting about food was never a food writer or critic, but always chefs, farmers, wine producers or cheese-makers.
Kasper's vision for a new frontier of food publications is a magazine for those in the industry, by those in the industry. He first approached compatriot and renowned chef Matt Orlando and asked him, “how would you feel about bringing something like this together?” And so, Aorta came to life.
Aorta is born of a very simple idea: a low-cost platform for those who try to make a better food culture to share their stories and their congeniality. It is run and promoted by FOOD - Food Organisation of Denmark - a small NGO devoted to developing Danish and Nordic Cuisine.
The magazine goes out to those interested in developing gastronomy and food culture, people involved in the industry, the “food-nerdy”.
Let's give the pen to those who actually do it.
Aorta is just over a month in the making, and, for the time being, its primary objective is to continue growing and involve interesting food practitioners. The writers are given carte blanche to play with and to figure out what interests them: the stories they have to tell.
Does Aorta portray a shift in the entire industry? Twenty chefs, producers, farmers and writers coming together to write for a publication sounds like quite the fiction. Typically, chefs and restaurants have had a very defensive approach to sharing, safeguarding their recipes as secrets of the trade.
This divisiveness has been reverted in the past five years, strongly influenced by the new Nordic movement and by its iconic leader Rene Redzepi, through projects like MAD. As Kasper explains: "He was the pressure-cook that forced everyone else to raise their game, to be also much more than a chef: to be a custodian of nature. To preach biodeiversity, to preach environmentalism through food".
Kasper is confident the new generation of more culturally aware young chefs will follow this example and further this unprecedented sharing trend we are now seeing in the industry. Aorta is just another part of this.
The quality and the variety of material which make Aorta a truly distinct publication are Kasper's proudest achievements. He gave us the example of Lisa Lov, the 'tigermom'/sous-chef, who just recently published an encyclopedic article about Chinese Noodles. “An elegant piece. I would have never read anything like it anywhere else. It made me feel like noodles”, Kasper said.
And again, he pointed out head chef Nicolai Nørregard's piece on his Fermented Lilac Honey initiative, or the inspired trip of brewers Tobias Emil Jensen and Tore Gynther to an independent Arizona brewery in Back to the Wilderness, and Matt Orlando's recipe for his very special, very secret, Fermented Potato Bread.
From the classic to the bizarre the magazine publishes everything in between. One Asmus Jensen, an historian, published an article on the Biodiversity of Cabbage inspired by a book on the subject from the year 1884. Did you know there used to be 122 different types of cabbage in Denmark? Neither did I.
In this new atmosphere young chefs don't have to compete: the farmers, producers, gardeners and brewers, the pulsating heart of the gastronomic organism – they're in it together. Aorta looks to encourage this sentiment of community and the curiosity to build a better, more interesting, more sustainable food culture. Out there is a food community that collaborates and doesn't compete, it works in harmony to create an experience, and Aorta will open your eyes to it.