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THE NORDIC WAVES-SCANDINAVIAN CHEFS: KIM AGERSTEN

The Nordic Waves is the term I used to describe this group of chefs from all of Scandinavia, mainly from Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway. These chefs known for 4-5 years at international level have particularly been at the forefront over the past three 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.

It is in an environment dedicated to the creation and beauty in the kitchen as the chef Kim Agersten served his apprenticeship. In spite of the passages at noma, Daniel (NYC) and WD-50, Agersten always returned in the kitchens of Mielcke & Hurtigkarl where he has worked for over 5 years (Now, Head chef for 2 years). There are more than a year, chef Jakob Mielcke mentioned to me the importance of Agersten in the creative process of dishes for M&H.

Kim Agersten has an aesthetic very close to nature, pure, in which one perceives the gestation period before reaching the final result. Despite the primacy of local products of high quality, the cuisine of restaurant is based on the best products from around the world, much like the chef Pascal Barbot, who said in a documentary: “My terroir is the world …”.

There are many ‘‘diamonds” in kitchens around the world, but what is difficult is to maintain this environment, the quality and creativity over a long period. Jakob Mielcke made sure to give Kim Agersten the environment to develop his own style and now he is reaping the benefits. Mielcke & Hurtigkarl is a great restaurant that often goes ‘‘under the radar” outside of Denmark as it does not use an exaggerated ways the social media and the media in general. But I can assure you that we will follow them for a long time with Chef Kim Agersten in the kitchen.

Q+A WITH KIM AGERSTEN (www.mielcke-hurtigkarl.dk):

1-(Scoffier) How do you explain the philosophy behind your cuisine and what is it main characteristics?

KAgersten- Food is so emotional. For me food is about expressing emotions. Sometimes it can be powerful and complex. And sometimes it can be simple and graceful. So i guess you can say that my philosophy is to be honest. It’s not always about pleasing people. It’s about inviting people in to our universe, and hopefully they will feel some of the same things I felt when creating the dishes: surprised, provoked, dreaming, reminiscing, happy etc. If I can touch each guest and in the end of night people feel moved in some way that makes me happy.

I think one of the main characteristics of my cuisine is that it’s always playful in a way. When Jakob Mielcke first started to talk about this restaurant, he wanted to bring the garden and the nature in to the restaurant, and we always did it in a very personal way. Not afraid to bring Japanese, Spanish, Korean, French, etc. ingredients in to the way we interpret the nature and garden surrounds us. Local produce has always being the base of my cuisine.

2-(Scoffier) Do you have a flavour or taste from your childhood that is again memorable?

KAgersten- I have many memories. One of them is waiting for the strawberries to be perfect and picking them before the birds in my parent’s garden. I remember them as the best strawberries of my life, eating them with cream and sugar. So good!

3-(Scoffier) Do you have a particular foods (or products) that you often use in your recipes?

KAgersten- I would say seaweed, ever since my obsession with Japanese cuisine started a couple of years ago. There are so many different variations of seaweed. I always use combo in my stocks to bring out the umami flavor. We get a lot of seaweed from a guy on Vancouver Island, who makes the most beautiful apple smoked dulce seaweed. It’s almost like eating a good jamon!

4-(Scoffier) Do you have a mentor (chefs or anybody else) that inspires your cuisine?

KAgersten- I don’t have a mentor. But when i started cooking i was very inspired by people like Michel Bras and Pierre Gagnaire. I wouldn’t say their food inspires me today so much, more the philosophy and energy that surround them.

5-(Scoffier) You have had experiences abroad (Noma, WD-50, Daniel), but you are always returned to the restaurant Mielcke & Hurtigkarl (or Hurtigkarl before), why exactly?

KAgersten- I have always been very happy here. It’s as simple as that. Working together with people that really love what they do gives a good creative energy in the kitchen. Jan Hurtigkarl and Jakob Mielcke gave me the perfect tools to develop as a chef and find my own style. But also as a leader in the kitchen, which sometimes takes some different skills than cooking skills. And i learned that from them also, so i guess you can say that Jan and Jakob in a way are my mentors…

Today, I spend most of my time creating new dishes and finding the best products available – what any chef wants to do really.

6-(Scoffier) How do you develop (inspirations) your recipes and how did you work with chef Jakob Mielcke (to create)?

KAgersten- Inspiration can come from so many things: a place, a feeling, a beautiful product. Sometimes I taste something which triggers my imagination. Like i said it’s very emotional!

Jakob and I have a very unique creating process because we think very different from each other and get inspiration from different things. But we always end up going the same way. We have worked together for more than seven years which is unique in its self in this industry. I think that gives us a great advantage, always pushing each other to create.

7-(Scoffier) Are you a part of the New Nordic Cuisine manifesto?

KAgersten- I support the manifesto but I am not a part of it. I will always use local products and forage as many things as I can myself, but I am also very fond of some things that you cannot find in Denmark. I could never see myself cooking without using yuzu or making my own kimchi.

8-(Scoffier) Is there a movement or a chef as you watch carefully now?

KAgersten- Maybe it is not so much of a movement, but I think it is very important that more and more chef are thinking about sustainability and raising awareness about it. It is one of our biggest responsibilities as chefs to know what we are cooking and know where it comes from.

The food industry is getting greedier and greedier, producing more discount products for the consumer to buy at lower prices and always hiding the truth about how it was produced, how unhealthy it is or that they had to chop a piece of the rainforest down to make it. It is so important for us as chefs to think about sustainability and treat the products we use with respect!

9-(Scoffier) Can you give us a detailed recipe (Signature dish or other) that is characterized the cuisine of Kim Agersten?

KAgersten- Recipe: Dark chocolate and hops simcoe hops – a chocolate dessert reflecting the garden as it is looking right now, using hops as a fresh and bitter ingredient. I made a very balanced chocolate dessert, making sure that it’s not too sweet and heavy as chocolate desserts often are. At Mielcke & Hurtigkarl we serve it with a stout from Mikkeller called Black Hole, brewed with coffee and vanilla.

10-(Scoffier) What are your goals (ambitions) as chef? Do you think about writing a book, a television show, a restaurant, others?

KAgersten- We are always setting new goals at M&H, constantly evolving. Creating a unique dining experience and severing our guests delicious and beautiful dishes very night is a goal getting repeated every day. And that is very satisfying to me as a chef.

We have a lot of new projects in 2012.

 

 

 

RECIPE: Dark Chocolate and Hops Simcoe Hops

DarkChocolate...

Ingredients & Progression Recipe:

Chocolate ganache

-91 g. milk

-91 g. cream

-91 g. chestnut honey

-23 g. water

-250 g. 70% chocolate

1. Bring milk, cream, honey and water to a boil and pour it over the chocolate. Mix it together with a hand blender and cool down.

Pear Sponge cake

-210 g. pear purée

-360 g. egg whites

-340 g. egg yolks

-60 g. sugar

-70 g. fluor

1. Blend everything together with a hand blender and put it in a chiffon bottle. Fill a plastic cop 2/3 with the dough. Bake it a microwave oven at 900w i 40 sec.

Airy chocolate

-250 g. 90 % chocolate

-250 g. 70 % chocolate

-200 g. walnut oil

1. Melt everything together and cool it down to room temp. Put it in a chiffon bottle with 3 shots. Spray it in and cool metal container and put in the freezer. When it’s frozen, break the chocolate in to smaller pieces.

Pickled green walnuts

1. With a fork put small holes in the walnuts. Put them in cold water for a month. Change the water very day. Taste the walnuts, and if they are still very bitter continue to dilute them. When they are done, cook them in light sugar syrup. Add spices if you like. Pickle them in the sugar syrup for at least 4 months.

Chocolate crumble

-500 g. sugar

-500 g. almond flour

-300 g. flour

-220 g. bitter coco powder

-350 g. butter

-30 g. salt

1. Mix everything together and vacuum pack the dough. When it is cold, grate it on a cheese grater and bake it at 180 degrees for 8 min. When plating the dessert, mix the crumble with chopped whole coco beans and candied chocolate malt.

Powder

-50 g. bitter coco powder

-50 g. chocolate malt powder

-20 g. Fennel seeds powder

Chocolate and hops ice cream

-500 g. water

-30 g. fresh simcoe hops

-500 g. milk

-200 g. 75 % chocolate

-100 g. trimoline

-100 g. bitter coco powder

1. Mix the water and hops and let it rest for 20 min. Sieve the water. Bring the water, trimoline and coco powder to a boil and pour it over the chocolate. Mix in the hops water and put into pac jet containers.

-I used fresh bronze fennel on the dessert because it is very nice with the anise notes to the dessert.

FURTHER INFORMATION

Mielcke and Hurtigkarl/Chef Kim Agersten

Frederiksberg Rundell 1,

2000 Frederiksberg

Denmark

www.mielcke-hurtigkarl.dk

PRESS REVIEW/LINKS

1. Condé Nast Traveller, 25 Reasons to go to Copenhagen

2. Video, Inside Mielcke & Hurtigkarl

3. Best Emerging Chefs, Jakob Mielcke

(NOTE: Credit for the photos: Kim Agersten & Mielcke & Hurtigkarl)

Tous Droits Réservés. Copyright Scoffier ©2008-2012

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Jakob Mielcke Kitchen/©MielckeHurtigkarl

THE NORDIC WAVES-SCANDINAVIAN CHEFS: JAKOB MIELCKE

The Danish gastronomic scene is now on the map for food enthusiasts from around the world thanks to René Redzepi and Noma. We now know very well the wild herbs, malt soil, wood sorrel, berries, mackerel etc. and this aesthetic is so close to nature. But beyond Noma, there are Danish chefs who make creative and unique cuisine, a fine cuisine bases Danish and French with the best products from around the world and an aesthetic resolutely close to Nature. The chef Jakob Mielcke is as such a leader of this cuisine.

Jakob Mielcke is born at Aarhus (Denmark) in 1977. It debuted at the restaurant Under Klippen before heading later to do an internship at Pierre Gagnaire (Paris), one chef that he greatly influenced. Moreover, in 2002, he lead the kitchen of the Pierre Gagnaire restaurant (Sketch) in London before returning to Denmark. Then, with his partner Jan Hurtigkarl, he opened Mielcke and Hurtigkarl, a restaurant who has the opportunity and privilege of being located in the Royal Danish Garden in Frederiksberg. This environment certainly helps the chef Mielcke create dishes very organic and inspired by nature. Beyond the great influence of nature in his dishes and his aesthetics, the cuisine of Jakob Mielcke perhaps cataloged world cuisine with strong foundations in Denmark. It uses the best of his travels to make good and beautiful compositions often complex. 

 

Q+A WITH JAKOB MIELCKE ( http://www.mielcke-hurtigkarl.dk ): 

1-(Scoffier) How do you explain the philosophy behind your cuisine and what is it main characteristics?

JMielcke- Food is a way for me to communicate emotions. To reaching people by being funny, surprising, provoking, intellectual, conceptual etc. Sometimes it’s technical or powerful, but that only works when vulnerability is there as well. I guess you can say that honesty is important to me. Tastefulness in it self is not everything. On the contrary, showing people around the palate is more interesting than just pleasing them. To me, pleasing has to do with sugar and fat content. Moving people involves more than that.

An important characteristic of my cuisine is the obsession with nature. This came about when we established our restaurant in 2007 and suddenly found ourselves surrounded by nature – although in a cultivated form – in The Royal Danish Garden Society’s garden. It became essential to me to pull as much organic wilderness as possible into the restaurant, which was dominated by very classical architecture and design at the time. I wanted to create the frame before deciding what exactly to fill in it, and after almost a year of rebuilding and decorating the restaurant in collaboration with a number of young designers and artists the style of our food somehow became self evident. It became organic and playful – in the moment, looking towards the future, respectful of the past.

2-(Scoffier) Do you have a flavour or taste from your childhood that is again memorable?

JMielcke- I have many! In general, my childhood memories are attached to the smells and tastes. When I get an idea for a dish like ’forest floor’ I am very much based in the present, but subconsciously I can’t ignore the fact that the birch tree (ingredient in the dish) has always been my favorite tree. Or that I used to eat the very first beech leaves (the sorbet of the dish) as a child when walking home from school.

3-(Scoffier) Do you have a particular foods (or products) that you often use in your recipes?

JMielcke- There are a number of produce that sticks with me. Seaweed would be an obvious one. That addiction led about doing a seaweed book with a professor in biochemistry a few years ago.

4-(Scoffier) Do you have a mentor (chefs or anybody else) that inspires you in your cuisine?

JMielcke- When I started cooking the Danish scene wasn’t that inspiring. So like many successful Danish chefs in my generation I went abroad for a few years. And two years with Pierre Gagnaire changed my life. He taught me how to move my own limits and he inspired me with his approach to cooking. He remains a source of inspiration.

Interior/©MielckeHurtigkarl

5-(Scoffier) 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?

JMielcke- No, I am not a part of it. I have my own ‘dogme’. I support the manifesto but I don’t see myself fitting into it. Like many of my Scandinavian colleagues we have always been gathering wild herbs, berries from the forest and beaches. This is not a new thing. To me this tradition of foraging with the chefs and supporting the local producers is obvious. But it’s important to remember that there is a family in Kyoto producing the most wonderful miso. Or a guy on Vancouver Island responsible for some of the most delicate seaweed I have ever met. These products and the continuing search for new ones is essential to me.

6-(Scoffier) How do you develop (your inspiration) your recipes and construct your menu at Mielcke & Hurtigkarl?

JMielcke- I think I have already answered the first part of your question above. When it comes to constructing the menus and developing new dishes, I have to mention Kim Agersten who’s been working with me for 7 years. Kim has become an indispensable actor in the creative process. Over the years my need to bounce off ideas with someone has given me a unique collaboration with Kim. I wouldn’t dream of putting a dish on the menu without running it by him first. Besides running the kitchen on a daily basis he’s good at keeping both feet on the ground in all aspects of our work. That helps me perform some of my more extreme ideas.

7-(Scoffier) I know that you are closed of January to March for research and travel. Where you travel and what inspires you in this process?

JMielcke- I couldn’t imagine not having seen and tasted Japan, Vietnam and India just to mention a few. I guess it’s been defining for me to travel and get inspired by produce, nature and people around the world. And we will continue doing this – traveling, exploring of the world of tastes – at Mielcke & Hurtigkarl. Having said that it has also been difficult to miss out on some of the seasons in our cooking. So we might plan things a little bit different in the future, but that’s all I can say for now.

8-(Scoffier) The chef Pascal Barbot (L’Astrance) take a lot of time choosing and picking his produces at the market. Do you spend as much of time to choose and pick your produces?

JMielcke- No, not really – and yes, of course! I spend a lot of time choosing my producers and suppliers and I put a lot of effort into it. When I came back to Denmark I was struggling to find fresh fish for example. It took years to find a producer and I had to go across the country. And today I’m sad to conclude that Copenhagen doesn’t offer fresh fish that can meet our standards. This is embarrassing when you think of Denmark being a quite small place surrounded by ocean.

9-(Scoffier) Do you use some elements from molecular gastronomy or new technology in your cooking techniques? If yes, which?

JMielcke- We use a wide range of techniques and we take just as much pride in our oldest and most classic techniques as we do in the most cutting edge contemporary ones. In fact we always try to go about solving a problem as ‘naturally’ as possible. I detest pouring white powder in things. To me the only thing from ‘molecular gastronomy’ worth bringing with me was the approach of the modern chef. Instead of hear-say it’s important to know as much as possible about how and why products react the way they do. Being precise is what counts.

10-(Scoffier) Can you give us a detailed recipe (Signature dish or other) that is characterized the cuisine of Jakob Mielcke and Mielcke & Hurtigkarl?

JMieclke- Recipe: Forest Floor

11-(Scoffier) What is your goal (ambitions) as chef or for your restaurant? Also, Do you think about write a book, a television show, others?

JMielcke- My ambition is to continuously develop this restaurant. There is no goal. Like a metamorphosis we had our starting point and from there on everything is in motion. It’s almost like a creature that you can affect in its directions but not entirely control. Remaining focused and remaining able to evolve and change is a personal ambition for me. If I get lazy and begin to think that everything is just fine as it is I hope that someone will kick me out of the way.

 

RECIPE: Forest Floor

 

 

Forest Floor/©MielckeHurtigkarl

 

 
INGREDIENTS & PROGRESSION RECIPE

Beech leaf sorbet:

-1 l. water

-200 g. sugar

-100 g. glucoses

-7 g. salt

-lemon juice

-2 leafs. Gelatine

-120 g. Freshly picked beech leaves (only first week of bloom)

1. Make a sirup of water, sugar, glucoses and salt. Add hydreted gelatine and suficient lemon juice. Cool it down blitz with the leaves. Freeze with nitrogen.

Airy Chocolate:

-500 g. 45% milk chocolate

-125 g. Birch bark oil.

1. Birtch bark oil is made by frying granulated birtch bark at low heat untill it goes light brown. Mix with tasteless oil and leave for a few days to gain taste.

2. Mix chocolate and oil over low heat while stirring. When hogenous, cool to 35 degrees c. And put it in a siphon bottle. Add gas and sprey out in a tall plastic container and freeze. Breake into pjeces befor using.

Fir ”mayo”:

-6 dl. fir oil

-2 dl. milk

-100 g. sugar

-2 leaves gelatine

1. Fir oil is made by blitzing freshly picked fir needles with a tasteless oil. Blitz untill the oil starts to get hot. Strain in a sieve. Heat milk, sugar and gelatine. Add the oil to the milk base while mixing with a hand blender. Consistensy should be like a majonæse

Woodroof mousse:

1 l. cream

-150 g. White chocolate (Askanoisi)

-2 spoonful. Woodroof powder. (dried leaves)

1. Heat the cream with woodroof powder and pass it through a sieve, pouring it over the chocolate. Be  careful it doesnt separate while cooling down. Put in a siphon bottle .

Crumble of black walnuts:

-200 g. Black walnuts

-100 g. hazelnuts

-1 spoonful. dark malt

-2 spoonful. cocoa nibs.

-1 spsk. Birch bark ashes

-4 spsk. Biodynamic caster sugar from Venezuela

-3 vanilla

1. Chop walnuts and hazelnuts. Fry them of in a big pot at low heat with the vanilla. Cool of and add the remaining ingredience.

Woodroof leaf:

-3 spoonful. Dried yoghurt

-240 g. Yoghurt

-4 spsk. Isomalt

-85 g. Icing sugar

-10 g. Malto

-A little citras

1. mix in the thermomix at 95 degrees c. For 5 minutes. Cool down the paste and spread it in leaf shapes on a silpat. Season with dried woodroof powder and leave to dry at 65 degrees c. For 24 hours. When they have finished, gently shape them under a sugarlamp.

Woodroof wedges:

-Dark milk 62% fra Askinosie

-Woodroof powder

1. Melt the chocolate and put it in a very small pastry bag. Spread the powder on a tray and shape the wedges on top.

For Decoration:

-Wood sorrel and purple woodroof flower.

 

FURTHER INFORMATION:        

-Mielcke and Hurtigkarl/Chef Jakob Mielcke (Partner Jan Hurtigkarl) 

Frederiksberg Runddel 1,

2000 Frederiksberg, 

Copenhagen (Denmark)

http://www.mielcke-hurtigkarl.dk

 

-Review(s):

1. Pleasure, August 22, 2008, http://pleasure.dk/gourmet/artikel/138606/

2. Spiseliv (Review), http://www.spiseliv.dk/mielckehurtigkarl

 

-Video:

1. Mielcke and Hurtigkartl Tour, 2010, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvuiGg6kmY0

  

Tous droits réservés. Copyright Scoffier © 2008-2010

 

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