Young chef Emilie Qvist Kjaergaard is opening a restaurant in the middle of nowhere and has impressed even René Redzepi for her courage.
The 26 year old Danish chef, who has accumulated experience in places like Amass and Relae in Copenhagen and Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York went to a small fishing town in the northern part of Jutland for the first time in February and will be opening a restaurant there next month.
“It is a fishing village in the middle of nowhere. There is nothing but a harbour and 2,000 inhabitants. But instead of seeing it as a bad thing, we choose to see it as a good thing. We want to show that other parts of Denmark are great,” Emilie told Andrea Petrini during an online panel discussion called Green Minds think Alike.
René Redzepi, commenting on her decision to open the restaurant Medvind said he did not think people realised just how crazy this decision was. “The place where she is opening a restaurant is a really special place but it is incredible to think that before February she had never been there. Emilia represents the future. She is spontaneous, energetic and a go-getter. She can change the world and she is doing it step by step,” he said.
“She has decided to put herself in the most difficult place she can be in the whole of Denmark but this spontaneity is something that we have missed in the restaurant trade,” he said.
Emilia said that she chose to open the restaurant there with her partner Emma because she believed that rather than importing all the food she should cook it where it is grown. “The question for me was to go where the food is rather than to get the food to a place like Copenhagen,” she said.
“All the greens and vegetables will be from local producers while she will be serving lots of fresh fish which she will get from local fishermen. I have come back from an experience with Dan Barber and my cooking is very simple. It is all about flavour. What I want to do is get the best products and serve simple and honest food. I will be serving grilled fish and this week we have installed a barbecue in the middle of the kitchen so we will see now this goes,” Emilia said.
The restaurant will open in less than a month and she says it is a bit crazy but she is positive that it will work. “I am not coming from outside to preach to the locals. What we have done from the start is to get them involved. We went to the fish auction and told them that we were planning a fish restaurant. All the things we could get here were deep fried fish that were imported from the Netherlands when we are surrounded by fish. There were many things which did not make sense to me,” she said.