No journey to Copenhagen would be complete without dining at Noma, and for members of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, no trip would be complete without sharing a meal with local Chaîne members. Five Chicago Chaîne members enjoyed both experiences during a week-long dining and cultural tour of Denmark’s capital in August.
Led by Bailli de Chicago Mon Roldan, the Chicago Chaîne delegation comprised Vice-Chargée de Missions Beth Lang, Vice-Chargé de Missions John Blaser, Dame Stephanie Blaser and Dame Beth Roldan. Prior to embarking on their trip, the travelers reached out to Mette McIsaacson, Bailli Délégué of Denmark, and Jørgen Krenk, Chancelier, Bailliage de Denmark. They added a lunchtime dîner amical to their season’s program “to mark the visit of [their] Chaine brothers [and sisters] from Chicago,” according to their Web site announcement. The special event took place at Restaurant Schønnemann, an award-winning institution that has served traditional Danish fare since 1877. The twenty-four guests included members of the Denmark Chaîne and Mohamed Hammam, Bailli Délégué of Turkey with his wife, Maria. All enjoyed a variety of smørrebrød (open-faced sandwiches), marinated salmon, plaice filet, chicken salad, calf liver paté, pork filet and Danish cheeses. Throughout the convivial meal, many a “Skål!” (“Cheers!”) was heard from local members toasting their American guests with snaps, the Danish version of aquavit, followed by healthy swigs of dark beer.
Jørgen also helped Mon plan the group’s dining itinerary by offering tips on Copenhagen’s best restaurants. “One of the many benefits of Chaîne membership,” noted Mon, “is to be welcomed by local members around the world and to get ‘inside information’ on the best dining choices.”
The genesis of the group’s culinary adventure was securing a coveted reservation at Noma, one of only two restaurants in Copenhagen to be awarded two Michelin stars and – perhaps more impressive – ranked the #1 restaurant in the world in four of the last six years on the San Pellegrino list of the world’s best restaurants.
Even with high expectations, the Noma dining experience did not disappoint. The innovative dishes using quality local, seasonal ingredients were equaled only by the warm and flawless service. The atmosphere was one of joy and excitement felt by diners, servers and chefs alike. Indeed, Chef René Redzepi and his entire team greeted guests as they entered, and at the end of the evening, the experience was extended with a behind-the-scenes tour. As diners left in the wee hours, the chefs were huddled in the kitchen, still working and collaborating.
However, the Chicago Chaîne discovered that Copenhagen dining is more than just Noma. “The levels of quality and sophistication of the food in the places we visited were as high as we anticipated – whether modern or traditional, high-end or at the Torvehallerne Market,” recalled Stephanie.
Those places included Geranium (Copenhagen’s other Michelin 2-star restaurant and #51 on the San Pellegrino list), Relæ (1 star, SP list #45), Kokkeriet (1 star), Søllerød Kro (1 star), Studio (1 star), Amass (SP #66), and Bror (Michelin Bib Gourmand). Visits to Torvehallerne Market for a limitless selection of Danish and international foods and Aamanns smørrebrød for Danish open-faced sandwiches (kicked up several notches) rounded out what proved to be an epic culinary journey.