Acclaimed Danish chef and restaurateur, Mads Refslund, has launched a new pop-up restaurant at Soneva Fushi, the award-winning luxury resort in the Maldives. Located at Fresh in the Garden, a treetop dining destination that overlooks the resort’s extensive organic island gardens, the pop-up is based on Mads Refslund’s signature concept of Fire and Ice.
“I always find inspiration in nature so to have the opportunity to cook among the treetops of Soneva Fushi is very inspiring,” says Mads Refslund. “The key focus of the pop-up concept at Fresh in the Garden is ‘Fire’ and ‘Ice’, showcasing our natural instinct for how to work with nature’s bounty. The menu is evenly split: in ‘Ice’ items are untouched by heat, allowing them to reveal their pure beauty that nature has provided; in the contrasting ‘Fire’, cooking over live flame is used to enhance the ingredients. Together, the two sides create harmony and balance.”
The 12-month pop-up will offer guests at Soneva Fushi a rare opportunity to dine with one of the world’s most exciting culinary talents. One of the original founders of Copenhagen’s vaunted Noma, named the ‘world’s best restaurant’ five times, Mads Refslund is both an advocate for New Nordic cuisine as well as a terroir-based kitchen. His cooking has also pioneered the principle of ‘bonding rawness’, whereby raw ingredients are combined together based on their intrinsic values and flavours, with the aim of seeking the highest expression nature can provide.
Mads Refslund’s menu at Fresh in the Garden celebrates nature’s purity, with a clearly defined focus on vegetables and seafood indigenous to the region. ‘Ice’ dishes include a sustainably-caught Maldivian tuna tartare with salted plum and hibiscus, or watermelon crudo, dragon fruit and red basil. In ‘Fire’, prawns are cooked in lemongrass with velvet tamarind, while garden egg is served with aromatic herbs and black truffle. For sharing, guests can try a whole fish, roasted in coconut husks, or the plant-based braised hearts of palm with white truffle and sunchokes. And for dessert, the choice includes sour banana parfait with pine nut miso praline and pandan, or dragon fruit with kiwi and yoghurt.
“We are delighted to welcome chef Refslund to Soneva Fushi,” says Sonu Shivdasani, CEO and Co-founder of Soneva. “Soneva has a long history of collaborating with world-renowned chefs to offer an exceptional gastronomic experience to our guests, whether through pop-ups such as this or our ongoing Soneva Stars calendar.”
Founded in 1995, Soneva is an award-winning sustainable luxury resorts operator. At Soneva Fushi, Soneva Jani and Soneva in Aqua in the Maldives, and Soneva Kiri in Thailand, true ‘luxury’ is defined by peace, time and space. Each day, guests are encouraged to discover the Slow Life, reconnecting with themselves and the natural world through rare, unforgettable experiences that inspire and enthral.
Soneva is a pioneer for responsible tourism, combining a conscientious, proactive approach to sustainability with exquisite luxury and intuitive personalised service. Carbon neutral since 2012, Soneva launched its Total Impact Assessment in 2016, a first for the hospitality industry, measuring its social and environmental impacts. A mandatory 2% environmental levy is added to every Soneva stay, with proceeds going towards the not-for-profit Soneva Foundation to offset both direct and indirect carbon emissions from resort activities and guest flights. The Foundation funds a range of global projects that have a positive environmental, social and economic impact.
Mads Refslund is a Danish chef who lives in New York City. His first cookbook Scraps, Wilt & Weeds: Turning Wasted Food into Plenty, came out in 2017.
In the spring of 2022, he will open his first solo restaurant in New York, based on the concept of Fire and Ice. In the early years of his career, Chef Refslund earned his reputation working up the Copenhagen ladder at Michelin-starred restaurants Formel B, Restaurationen, The Paul and Kokkeriet.
Together with Rene Redzepi and Claus Meyer, he co-founded Noma, which would go on to receive three Michelin stars and was ranked the best restaurant in the world five times (in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2021).
After leaving Noma, he opened his next endeavour, Restaurant MR in Copenhagen. MR received a Michelin star within its first year and was voted one of the best restaurants in Scandinavia by White Guide. During this period, he developed the concept of ‘bonding rawness’, a principle that consists of combining raw materials together based on their intrinsic values and flavours, seeking the highest expression that nature provides.
Five years later, Mads embarked on a new journey, buying two hectares of land on a farm outside of Copenhagen and dedicating his efforts to growing organic heirloom vegetables. At the Nordic Gene Bank, he rediscovered and planted old species of vegetables that had not been grown in hundreds of years.
In 2011, Mads moved to New York City to join the partners of Indochine in opening ACME, a seasonally-driven New American restaurant with subtle Nordic accents.