Footloose foodies should make a beeline this month for the Knuthenlund Estate, on the southern island of Lolland, which is hosting the fifth annual Native Cooking Award. Denmark’s only international cooking competition is an event like no other – and a unique opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the world’s best chefs.
Five countries compete – Belgium, France, Denmark, Norway and Sweden – with each country represented by a team of four chefs with experience from restaurants at Michelin level or its equivalent. Each team is required to present a three-course meal to the judges, one of whom is Rasmus Kofoed of Geranium, the first Danish restaurant to receive three Michelin stars. The winning team will receive 40,000 kroner.
But here’s the twist: the Native Cooking Award takes place in the open. The emphasis is on local produce and interaction with nature, which means the teams are forbidden from preparing anything in advance. Instead, they receive raw materials from local food producers and are free to forage in the terrain around Knuthenlund. Each team is given bicycles and information about the wild plants and herbs that grow in the area. It’s up to them to decide how to include the local flora in their dishes.
The competition puts a premium on the chefs’ knowledge of raw materials, as well as their creativity, craftsmanship and ability to cooperate. The Danish team is captained by Torsten Schmidt of Malling & Schmidt in Aarhus, and includes Karlos Ponte of Copenhagen’s Venezuelan restaurant Taller.
Spectators should have fun. Bring your own bike and you can follow the chefs on their foraging forays – provided you don’t get in their way. You can also enter a raffle to win one of the 15 dishes. But don’t despair if your number doesn’t come up: dining options on the day will include a farmers market, plenty of street food, and a barbecued whole hog. M
The Native Cooking Award
May 29, 2016
Knuthenlundvej 7B, 4952