Interview with Rasmus Kofoed of Copenhagen's Geranium: Three Michelin Stars For Denmark

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Kofoed’s restaurant recently won its third Michelin Star

Geranium also ranks number 42 on Pellegrino's annual ranking of the world's 50 best restaurants.

Have your own food preferences changed over the years?
I never used to drink coffee and now I find myself drinking too much of it. Before I met my girlfriend I only drank herb tea and after the kids came I don't get much sleep so the aroma and flavor of coffee is comforting and I invariably reach for it. I really need to break this cycle. It's strange as a child I hated the taste and flavor of coffee though I loved chocolate.

I remember once as a child at a birthday celebration there were all these beautiful chocolates and I picked one up and bit into it and in the center was a roasted coffee bean. I absolutely hated it!

Was the restaurant open during the remodel and construction?
It was a little complicated to work while we were open and it actually went on longer than we had expected. It was three months during which we closed Sunday through Tuesday. The staff had to do extensive cleaning each time afterwards and it was noisy but we made it through. Now we are on the other side of that phase and we have a more beautiful restaurant.

What else have you changed?
We have a new wine cellar now and a new inspiration kitchen where I enjoy working on new ideas. Over time to continue to be inspired and move forward it's a space where I make new dishes and this new kitchen has become very important to my work. We are planning to move the kitchen from its existing location to the back of the room in view of our guests. (This has already happened since our conversation.)

You are a well-known name also a judge at the Bocuse d'Or, having won three trophies yourself. Do you think that formal French service as an influence of this platform will reemerge in restaurants?
Many people think that it is outdated but now it's becoming more relevant and does exert a tremendous influence on gastronomy. Participating and preparing for it like studying for a doctorate. In order to participate you have to take one or two years and work specifically on ingredients and learn everything about them that you can. I learned a lot about monkfish and lamb as I worked with them during that time.

A lot of people say his silver platter service is outdated, but if you actually taste it instead of just looking at it you will understand that to win it’s not just how it looks. The most points are given for the flavor. It needs to look good but more importantly it needs to be delicious to win and chefs do really clever things. I was a judge in the Norwegian classification and then for USA who came in second which was really great for them. They worked with salmon, sea urchin and scallops and I think I tasted some of the best salmon ever. They cooked salmon on a hot stone and took it directly from there's to the judging. It was perfectly cooked and super tasty.

Do chefs now consider American gastronomy in a different light after last year’s second placement?
Probably, and I think Americans were really hungry for the Bocuse d’Or and now they finally made it to the podium. Thomas Keller was a great mentor as a chef and Grant Achatz is very creative, Joshua Skenes is very talented and so many other great chefs.

You sometimes do events with guest chefs here. Who do you like to invite, big name chefs or friends?
We do such events though not so often because with restaurant and the family there is not much time to organize these. We have chefs come who are connected to Geranium; either they are some of my former staff or good friends.

Any cooking related travel plans coming up?
I will be going to the Maldives this year and it will be interesting. I hope to be cooking in shorts and hopefully will find new inspiration and since I will be cooking on my own I will not be able to hide behind anyone and just be in complete charge of everything on my own. It's also a challenge for me to test myself again. There will be no commis to peel the potatoes but I will be cooking on this beautiful island that I first visited two years ago.

The restaurant where I will be cooking sent me a chart with thirty different fish out of which I only recognize tuna. So I said, “OK, I will bring my mentality, my heart and my experience and will take it from there.” Everything is from the waters or an organic garden and things like lemongrass and lime which I wouldn't use here the philosophy of cooking locally will be similar to Geranium. It's an exchange last time I learnt a lot and am proud to say I taught them a lot.

Did you pick up any new techniques?
They do this amazing tuna stock with a whole tuna and vegetables for five hours and then strain it and you get this meaty, rounded stock, so deep in flavors and I have to say its the best stock I have ever tasted in my life.

How are the young people in your family doing? The last time we met your son was just a year old.
My little son is almost two years now and my daughter Camille is almost four and I spend a lot of time with them as I think it's very important. That is why I don't travel as much since I have my little family at home and my restaurant family here to take care of. I also want to see friends, play sports and visit extended family so I don't have time to travel as much. In fact I don't have enough hours in the day to accomplish all that I would like to.

Related

We are talking about making others happy, but what brings joy to you?
I like when we as a team are really dancing around in the kitchen and dining room during service and when everything is like a well-choreographed ballet. We don't even need to talk, we can look each other in the eyes and know exactly what each one is going to do and afterwards we can say Wow! We had a great dance tonight. It's just an amazing feeling when every component works beautifully. It's not that it should be boring with all of us working like robots, but it's like we know each other well and have been working together and are in sync. We have created a great atmosphere along with the food.