Depending on your approach to food, the Nordic kitchen is either an overdone trend or a terroir whose time has come. Regardless of what you call it, few would disagree that one name stands out among the ranks of chefs cum food entrepreneurs that have emerged over the past decade.
There is no doubting that Claus Meyer is passionate about his food. Often seen eating an apple grown on his own orchard, Meyer, in addition to being a co-owner of Noma, has gone on to establish a minor empire of restaurants, bakeries and various other food-related firms, all based on the principle that food should more than just taste good, it also needs to contribute to our overall well being.While he has made a commitment to teaching the nation how to enjoy what it eats – he baked bread on stage during his talk at TEDxCOPENHAGEN in 2012 – Meyer understands how to run a business. During the opening last year of a new food outlet in Lyngby, he commented that the he was under no illusion that the residents of the affluent suburb needed to be taught how to eat a healthier diet.
“We put it here because we knew there were customers,” he said.
But even as the Nordic concept becomes less a philosophy than a cliché, Meyer and his brand have remained a step ahead of the copycats. That is partly due to his engagement in social programmes – including running a cookery school for inmates – but just as much to, on the one hand, a tightly managed business and, on the other, an insatiable urge to bring out not just the best in food but also in the firms that produce and sell it.
The next step in Meyer’s plan will be to open a food hall in New York’s Grand Central Station. There, he has said, he will also hopes to establish a handful of eateries that are both approachable and affordable to customers, yet bring to them the quality and naturalness that Nordic culture has become associated with.
Meyer described the undertaking as seeking to convey the thinking behind Nordic kitchen, not selling Nordic food. Putting his concept where his mouth is, he expects to sell items prepared with local ingredients.
“It’s this idea of expressing a specific time and place through the food, and bridging deliciousness with healthiness and sustainability,” he told the Daily Meal, a food news website. “I want to engage, educate, and inspire people.”
And, he would be the first to admit, sell them food. Good food.