Vancouverites can have a taste of Nordic style cooking this month at two dinners at Royal Dinette, featuring chefs from Copenhagen: the first from chef Jonathan Tam of Relae, and the second from Rasmus Leck Fischer of Gastronomisk Innovation.
In the last few years, Danish cuisine — or Nordic cuisine more widely — has become a gastronomic darling. It has garnered many Michelin stars and the love of food critics around the world.
But what is 'Nordic' cuisine?
The Nordic region encompasses cities like Copenhagen, Stockholm, Oslo, and Reykjavik.
The most celebrated of Nordic chefs is Rene Redzepi, of Noma in Copenhagen. He is known for cuisine that focuses on produce and foraging.
Noma has been ranked the best restaurant in the world by Restaurant magazine, a highly regarded industry publication.
Tam worked as Chef de Partie at Noma for two years. He says Nordic-style cooking is minimalist.
"It's really focused on the main ingredient of each dish rather than thinking of doing a lot of different components. That stems from Noma deciding to focus on a region and making a very specific box to follow, which led to really interesting creativity."
A focus on local ingredients
Tam says the focus is on the seasons and only using ingredients found in the region forms the foundation of Nordic-style cooking.
"It's very ingredient-driven and looking to nature".
Looking to nature in the cuisine doesn't necessarily mean everything on a plate has to be green.
"To be Nordic doesn't mean that you have to serve moss or that all your dishes are made of foraged plants. To be honest, a lot of those wild plants, I don't think they even taste good."
Tam acknowledges that some diners might complain the bites are small, given the emphasis is often on a singular ingredient.
But he argues it's worthwhile, because Nordic style cooking allows food lovers to try something new, shedding light on the best products in a given city or country.
"See what is special to the region. It's exciting to get to try it."
In that spirit, Tam made use of B.C. ingredients like Okanagan apples and sea urchin from Prince Rupert waters, for his pop-up dinner at Royal Dinette.
The next event featuring Nordic cuisine takes places on January 30th at the same restaurant. It will feature Rasmus Leck Fischer of Gastronomisk Innovation.