THE NORDIC WAVES-SCANDINAVIAN CHEFS: CLAUS M. HENRIKSEN
The Nordic Waves is the term I used to describe this group of chefs from all of Scandinavia, mainly from Sweden, Denmark and Norway. These chefs known for 3-4 years at international level have particularly been at the forefront over the past two years due to the recognition of New Nordic Cuisine and the emphasis on a cuisine close to nature and the local products. All this, without relying on the status attained by the restaurant Noma and Chef René Redzepi. But beyond fashions and trends of the moment, I discovered a high concentration of young chefs, innovative, creative, open to the world and all dedicated to their garden and immediate environment.
The Series allowed me to talk to some chefs who had the privilege of being on a unique property, to have immediate access to their gardens and nature. I am thinking to Magnus Ek, Magnus Nilsson, Kobe Desramaults, Dan Hunter, Peeter Pihel and now Claus M. Henriksen of Dragsholm Slot. Henriksen has a double chance to cook in a unique historic Dragsholm Castle (13th century), but also be able to pick its products to even one of the main sources of the best chefs in Copenhagen, the Lammefjorden (Danish Island of Zealand).
Henriksen is 31 years old, this young chef has worked only in Denmark, including two years as sous-chef at noma before becoming executive chef of Drasholm Castle. Inspired by Redzepi and its immediate environment, we can say that the vegetables and the terroir are the ‘’heart of its cuisine’’. Harvest to plate, only 12 hours!
We could name her cuisine New Nordic Cuisine, but so close to the source, I would say New Danish Cuisine! An inspirational chef, an exciting and a creative cuisine, close to a certain purity of flavors. A craftsman dedicated to his work!
Q+A WITH CLAUS M. HENRIKSEN (www.dragsholm-slot.dk ):
1-(Scoffier) How do you explain the philosophy behind your cuisine and what is it main characteristics?
CHenriksen- In Danish we say “fra jord til bord” which translates from the soil/earth/fields onto the table. The main characteristic is putting emphasize on the local vegetables and handling them only as much as necessary to extract the best taste.
2-(Scoffier) Do you have a flavour or taste from your childhood that is again memorable?
CHenriksen- It is a danish classical coffee cake, which can be found in all bakeries, called “brunsviger” – a yeast dough covered with brown sugar and butter. This happens also to be the first thing I baked by myself as a child.
3-(Scoffier) Do you have a particular foods (or products) that you often use in your recipes?
CHenriksen- I use a lot wild plants, herbs and flowers from our herbal garden, the local beach and the surrounding forests.
4-(Scoffier) Do you have a mentor (chefs or anybody else) that inspires you in your cuisine?
CHenriksen- In the very beginning of my career it was probably Marco Pierre White and then in course of the next couple of years Michel Bras and, of course, René Redzepi from Noma made a big impact.
5-(Scoffier) I know that you work with noma. Do you are part of the New Nordic Cuisine manifesto? If yes, are you
as strict (just local products) that René Redzepi in your recipes?
CHenriksen- I’m not a part of the manifesto. But I believe in using as many local high quality products as possible. Compared to René , I’m so lucky that the castle is surrounded by our own fields, which we can harvest from – it can’t get much more local than that!
6-(Scoffier) Do you spend as much of time to choose and pick your produces each day?
CHenriksen- Yes, more or less. It depends of course on the amount of guests we have in the restaurants. We start each day at our main suppliers, picking and choosing the daily vegetables and on the way back to the castle we often collect some herbs and plants from the region.
7-(Scoffier) How do you develop (your inspiration) your recipes and construct your menu at Dragsholm Slot?
CHenriksen- In essence, it is about making use of what it best now. We look at what our local farms can supply and then build up the menu from there. So I start out choosing a vegetable and then find a fish or some meat which can accompany the vegetable, and so on. The season’s best vegetable always gets the honor of being served as a vegetarian main course (one course of the 5-7 course menu).
8-(Scoffier) Dragsholm Castle is also a hotel with another restaurant (The eatery). Do you direct all the kitchens? What is the difference between the menus?
CHenriksen- Yes, I direct all kitchens, the gourmet restaurant, the eatery and our catering department. All outlets use the same produce and have the same high quality, just differ in style. Often the most popular dishes from the gourmet restaurant are adapted so that they then also can be used in the other outlets.
9-(Scoffier) Can you give us a detailed recipe (Signature dish or other) that is characterized the cuisine of Claus Henriksen at Dragholm Slot?
CHenriksen- Recipe: Havgus Cheese & Crushed Nettle, Wild Mushrooms, Roasted Buckwheat & an Aromatic Mushroom Sauce
10-(Scoffier) What are your goals (ambitions) as chef or for the restaurant? Do you think about write a book, others?
CHenriksen- I would love to write another book. Last year, I published one with the castle with some recipes and a lot of interesting
information about the castle’s history and surroundings. It is unfortunately only in Danish – so I’d love to write one in English so it can reach a larger audience perhaps with emphasize on what one can cook in the winter, when nature gives you so much less to work with. The challenge is bigger but the dishes actually end up being more intensive.
Otherwise, I look forward to constantly improving and developing our product. For example I put a lot of effort into finding the perfect plate for each of my new creations. There is always something that can be improved and perfected.
RECIPE: Havgus Cheese & Crushed Nettle, Wild Mushrooms, Roasted Buckwheat & an Aromatic Mushroom Sauce
Ingredients & Progression Recipe (For 6)
For the aromatic mushroom sauce
-200 g mixed wild mushroom
-2 dl cream
-5 dl whole milk
-50 g butter
As well as
-50 g nettle
-100 g parsley
-40 g Havgus (or similar cheese, like e.g. comté)
-30 g dry old bread
-20 g buckwheat kernels
-25 g butter
-500g wild mushrooms (e.g. chanterelle and pucini/cep mushrooms)
-Some wild herbs and flowers (e.g. chickweed, yarrow)
-Some oil or butter for pan-roasting the mushrooms
-6 slices 2mm thick Havgus cheese (or similar cheese)
1. For the aromatic sauce, put all ingredients in a pot and let them come to a boil. Then let it simmer for approx. 20 minutes. Pour the sauce through a strainer into another pot.
2. Wash the nettle and parsley and dry them in a salad spinner.
3. Cut the Havgus or similar cheese into small cubes. Put the cheese, nettle, parsley and old, dried bread into a blender. Blend it into a coarse pesto with some salt.
4. Roast the buckwheat kernels in butter until they are golden brown. Add some salt and let them drip of on some paper towels.
5. Wash the plants/herbs in cold water and let them drip off on paper towels.
6. Take 6 plates and place a generous spoon full of crushed nettle on the bottom of the plate. Spread it out to the approx. size of your cheese slices. Roast the mushrooms in butter. Place them on the crushed nettle. Then place a slice of cheese on top of the mushrooms. With a gas torch melt the cheese so that it covers all previous ingredients. Sprinkle the buckwheat kernels on top of the cheese. With a hand blender make the aromatic mushroom sauce foamy and place the foam around the cheese. Finish off by placing some herbs in the middle of the plate.
Dragsholm Slot/Executive Chef Claus M. Henriksen
4534 Horve (Denmark)
1. Great Dane dining, The Australian, April 2011
2. Review by Eva Helbaek, August 2010
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