An introspective live music performance, a surreal pink disco experience and edible impressions that include ant-cheese, pig’s blood and raw jellyfish. These are some of the new items on the menu as Copenhagen restaurant Alchemist once again opened its doors on May 4. ”It almost feels like opening a brand-new restaurant”, says Head Chef and co-owner Rasmus Munk about the approaching premiere. Having faced 8 months of lockdown during the restaurant’s first two years, Rasmus Munk is more than eager to once again run a house buzzing with staff, performers, visual tech, sound effects and above all: expectant guests.
“When the second lockdown hit, we had just finished work on two completely new installations in the restaurant, both of them in different ways linked to the pandemic. Now we will finally have guests in the house to experience them”, he said.
The initial installation is centred around a solo violinist performance and is a collaboration with the symphony orchestra, Copenhagen Phil. Three violinists rotate in taking on the part of “Lulu” every evening, performing a 19th century emigrant song in a dramatic, dark setting for arriving parties of guests at the very start of the evening.
“Hospitality and the performing arts are two of the industries that have been hit hardest by the pandemic. This melancholic performance reminds me of the ‘black hole’ we all fell into during the first period of lockdown. It signifies a longing for the things we lost, but also the positive effects in the form of more time for undisturbed reflection”, says Rasmus Munk.
For Rasmus Munk, incorporating a live music performance is a milestone on his way to creating a truly holistic experience.
We need to start equating gastronomy with other cultural expressions
“In the 17th century, music was merged with theatre to create a whole new art form: opera. With this update of the Alchemist universe, I feel that we have come one step closer to integrating gastronomy and art. Food is an integral part of human life and development, and we need to start equating gastronomy with other cultural expressions like the performing and visual arts.”
The second new installation room is completely and utterly bright pink with tacky decorations in every possible shade of the color. What happens in the “Pink Room” stays in the pink room – but Rasmus Munk can reveal that the idea behind it is to toy with the contrast between complying with authoritative social rules and a longing to let loose. And yes, there is a disco ball.
“I suspect I share an inner yearning to break free with most people in the world during the pandemic. Even though I understand why the restrictions are necessary – it has been challenging for me that authorities are dictating and changing my life’s work. The Pink Room was a way to channel this. Even though it probably unnerves some guests going in, most of them are actually dancing and giggling at the end – that is very uplifting to see”, says Rasmus Munk.
A number of new edible impressions have also been be incorporated in the experience.
“The creativity in our development kitchen has been explosive during this second lockdown. We have had the time to research deeper subjects like hunger, social media surveillance and blood donation as well as experimenting with new techniques like growing mycelium patterns, making cheese with formic acid from ants and harvesting invasive jellyfish. At the same time our visual effects team has been working on some amazing new 360-degree universes for the planetarium dome. I can’t wait to share it all with our guests”, says Rasmus Munk.
Alchemist is located on Refshaleøen in Copenhagen, Denmark, in a warehouse where The Royal Danish Theatre used to build and store their back drops.
Architecture and art
Chef Rasmus Munk designed and drew the new Alchemist himself back in 2016. Architect Michael Duncalf of Duncalf Ltd (UK) got involved in the end of 2017. The interior at Alchemist is contemporary with a high focus on aesthetics, art and technology, far away from the colour palette and the interior styles that characterize a traditional restaurant.
The massive bronze doors that lead into Alchemist measure 100 sq ft (8 ft wide and 13 ft tall) and are designed by Danish Artist Maria Rubinke.
The height from floor to ceiling in the main lounge is over 74 feet (22 metres) with a partly veiled view into Alchemist’s test kitchen.
200 tons of steel went into the construction of the gigantic planetarium dome, which lies at the heart of Alchemist. The dome has a diameter of 57 feet (18 meters), with 12 mapping projectors supplying the guests at the winding dining bar with a 360-degree visual experience whence dining.
Guests pass through several sensory rooms during the dining experience. One room is themed on music in collaboration with symphony orchestra Copenhagen Phil, and another is a pink installation room themed the contrast between complying with authoritative social rules and a longing to let loose.
The sonic identity of Alchemist is created by music producer and composer Lars Bork Andersen with the composition “A voyage of sound through mystical spaces”.
The owners of Alchemist are Rasmus Munk and former CEO of Saxo Bank, Lars Seier Christensen – who is the majority owner.