Rasmus Kofoed has decided to create an entirely new menu at his Geranium restaurant in Copenhagen, and it will be meat-free. However, for the Danish chef, it doesn’t feel like a drastic decision but something more natural and authentic.
Reaching number two on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, retaining three Michelin stars and guiding Team Denmark to silver at the Bocuse d’Or final represents a colossal achievement. While others might bask in the glory, Kofoed is changing things up and eschewing meat from his menu.
“It’s not such a big thing in my head as I haven’t eaten meat for the last five years and we don’t have a lot of meat on the menu,” says Kofoed. “Maybe it’s a bigger challenge for the staff because we have one meat day, one vegan, one vegetarian and one fish. So we will just change that one. For me, it hasn’t been a crazy decision. It’s natural because I live privately that way and I want the menu to reflect my life, what I like, what I eat. Otherwise, it doesn’t feel authentic.”
Kofoed is not the only top chef to turn his back on meat. Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park made the decision to go fully vegan at his New York restaurant. The change has not been an easy one, drawing criticism in the media and spurring a parting of ways with Claridge’s of London.
“I think [Daniel Humm] is very brave,” says Kofoed. “It’s not an easy decision to take. Personally, I think plant-based food should be casual, easy, focused on healthy-eating, tasty vegetables prepared last-minute. When we opened Angelika it was not complicated at all. It was dishes that I cooked at home for my family with limited time. You know how it is when kids are waiting too long for their food, they start fighting and screaming. So they were meals that I could cook for five people within 35 minutes."
Geranium, Copenhagen, will get a new interior as part of Kofoed's new vision.
“That’s why we opened Angelika, because I wanted people to see the beauty of plant-based cuisine. Hopefully, the guests can adapt it and get inspired to eat more plant-based food at home. I’m not telling anyone to skip meat, just to eat more vegetables. Angelika is still here, it’s just resting for the moment but it will open in the New Year. We are doing an Angelika book, which is based on those simple but beautiful recipes so people can eat more vegetables during the week."
“I did that because during the first lockdown I was going running a lot and my own focus was on living a more healthy and balanced life. I had been on a plant-based diet for a year before. I felt we couldn’t just open Geranium like normal, not just for the guests but for ourselves as well, something that brings meaning in these times."
“When you go to all these great restaurants, even Geranium, even if the focus has always been to create a nice balance in the meal, sometimes it’s just too much. Too much protein, too much fat, too many vices for your body and you just don’t feel on top when you leave or the morning after. It’s about more than just delicious food, of course, we all need moments to celebrate but it should be something that makes your mind and body stronger. We should inspire, that’s how I see my role as a chef. To inspire in a new direction."
Signature Dish - 'Marbled' Hake, Caviar & Buttermilk.
While Angelika was a purely plant-based restaurant, Geranium is not, but Kofoed's plans to replace the entire menu reflect his appetite for a challenge and keeping things fresh.
"Geranium is not vegetarian or vegan. We are not serving meat, but fish is not meat. Fish is fish. We are living in a small country, surrounded by the sea, and we have some of the best shellfish and fish in the world, so of course, we will use that. Geranium is not going to be vegetarian or only plant-based. It’s a challenge, but for me it’s not a crazy decision."
“I feel it’s time for a change at Geranium and I’m working on that as we speak. Not that we will cancel all the signature dishes, but we won’t serve them anymore. That’s how I like things, I like a challenge in my life. My next challenge is to create amazing new dishes for the menu."
“Just to say goodbye to dishes like the marbled fish and the razor clam, a lot of these dishes that we’ve been perfecting for years. Also, dishes that people ask for when they come here, so I felt I couldn't take them away. But now I think it’s time for a change, also for the people who work here, we need to be constantly evolving.”
Kofoed is sometimes depicted as a relentless competitor, but while he thrives on that competition, he is actually a far more relaxed character in real life. “I always felt like that, I think sometimes it depends on the angle that journalists choose when they write about me. It has been a really amazing year for me. I was married to Maja who I’ve been together with for 12 years, we have three kids. That was a beautiful experience. I believe we need to get the best out of life while we are here.”
“I wasn’t expecting anything this year. When I think back to lockdown and that time and you’re not able to do anything. Of course, you’re able to stay with your family and that brought a lot of joy because I had been working a lot. Then there was the Michelin Guide announcement for the Nordics, Bocuse d’Or and the World’s 50 Best all within three weeks. So all my travel this year was compressed into three weeks. Which was quite hectic and a little intense, but it was great to see old friends from around the world again and be together."
Will a meat-free Geranium be able to challenge for the coveted number one spot on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list next year?
“I don’t really think about where we will be next year, but of course as you get closer… there’s nothing we can do except just do what we’ve been doing till now for many years. Focusing on a great experience but more importantly enjoying what we’re doing and enjoying the moment."
“For me, it starts standing in an open kitchen, shoulder to shoulder with my team and creating a great experience. You feel that magic energy sometimes, between the team and the guests, and that’s amazing."
“My head is full of ideas so I’m always busy. I’m a very happy man.”