Bo Bech, the Danish chef of restaurant Geist in Copenhagen was the first to inaugurate this year’s series of four hands dinners with two Michelin star chef Sang-hoon Degeimbre at L’Air du Temps in Liernu, and what a great evening it turned out to be.
When I had interviewed San in November, he had mentioned Geist as one of his favourite restaurants in the world, so I was incredibly curious to experience what the Danish chef and San could combine together.
Bo Bech needs no introduction in Denmark. He is well known for having closed a Michelin star restaurant to open Geist, which is more like a brasserie. The cuisine is still impeccable but he wanted a less formal ambience. In Copenhagen, he was also well known for having a bakery without a name which made only one type of bread, and for many years he was a television personality who presented the Danish version of ‘Kitchen nightmares’.
When you meet Bo, you can actually feel his energy. We were invited to experience this four-hands dinner at the chef’s table with direct access to the kitchen, so we could experience what was going on behind the scenes from the start of the evening.
What struck us immediately was the ease with which Bo Bech fitted in with San’s team at L’air du temps. When most of the guests had arrived at the restaurant, Bo went out to greet them and then rushed back in to the kitchen to tell San that he needed to go out to speak to his guests. I am doing your job he told him jokingly.
They indeed did welcome the guests in one of the restaurant rooms before the start of service and explained what they would be doing that evening. San welcomed the guests and explained that he and Bo would be cooking a number of dishes separately but they would also make the main dish together. “What brings us all together is a passion for food so don’t hesitate to come to the kitchen to see what is going on. We will ask you to come at the end of the service,” San said.
By the end of the evening, all guests would walk into the kitchen to take a final glass of champagne and to chat with San and Bo.
We arrived at L’air du temps around 7pm and what was striking was the calmness inside the kitchen. Despite a brigade of chefs who were ready to plate the food at one go for all the guests in the restaurant, the kitchen was spotless and there were just the final finishing touches being made. We were there together with Florence Atlas from Loft Kitchen. (If you can read French we really urge you to take a look at this very interesting blog full of great recipes among others).
An impressive array of dishes made by San and Bo followed and again what was stunning was the amazing teamwork and way that San’s team plated Bo’s dishes after listening to his explanations on the spot.
As we arrived Bo welcomed us with a video of him being chased by San for ‘stealing his fermented white carrots’ for a dish. He had posted it earlier that day on Instagram. We knew we were going to be in for a ride.
Bo explained to all the guests at the end of the dinner how he had got to know San for the first time six months ago at a judging competition in Denmark though San still recalls the time he discovered Geist when he had attended the Mad forum organised in Copenhagen two years ago.
He explained that what he had wanted to show in his cuisine was what he loved about food. “Maybe food is going a bit in the wrong direction. I like food to be burning hot. I want guests to enjoy what they are eating without knowing they are eating something complex.”
The most stunning dish he served was mashed potatoes with caviar. “We know caviar always works. Who decides whether caviar or the potato should have a higher standing. I wanted to put the two ingredients together and ask that question. Why cannot a potato, if given love and care not be as good as caviar?” We can attest to the fact that the mashed potato was stunning. “What you do not know is that 70% of that potato was butter,” Bo said with a laugh.
“The Danes love their butter,” San had told us earlier. “Between yesterday and today we must have used 20 kilos of butter,” he told us with a smile.
In the coming days we will write about what Bo and San served at the four hands dinner as well as our interview with Bo Bech. In the meantime these are some of the behind the scenes photos we took.
You can read about the full schedule of four hands dinners at L’air du temps here.