As human beings, we are predisposed to strive for purpose in our lives which is often expressed in through our careers. In America, it seems that fringe benefits and perks also promote a higher level of job satisfaction and happiness. But for some of us, like Kathy Koenig, co-founder and owner of Culinary Concepts Catering, the perks that go with her job can just seem unfair to the rest of us. But as she quipped when speaking about her recent Nordic-inspired in-market experience curated by Invested Traveler “somebody’s got to do it”.
Culinary Concepts is a San Diego-based catering company with nearly three decades under its belt offering innovative and fresh cuisine for their corporate clients, special events and wedding parties.
Koenig’s recent travels to Copenhagen, Denmark expanded her culinary knowledge and increased her business’ competitive advantages by being on the forefront of one of the changing tides in gastronomy. Koenig knew of the challenges facing the New Nordic dogma which first originated in 2004 by Danish chefs René Redzepi and Claus Meyer and the opening of their Copenhagen-based restaurant Noma (short for nordisk mad meaning Nordic food.) As chefs are known for wanting to leave an indelible imprint with their culinary creativity, the second generation of New Nordic chefs have infusion-inspired ambitions. For example, infusing American-inspired concepts that will further attract tourism to the region but continue drawing from locally sourced ingredients. Understanding the new culinary nuances taking shape, Koenig needed a research-based, hands-on epicurean experience, and hired Invested Traveler with the goal of planning and coordinating the entire experience. Invested Traveler is well-known for curating incentive, group and other travel-inspired experiences, tailored to the needs of each client and group.
COPENHAGEN’S REIGN ON COMPLEXITY SCALE
One of the newest venues in Copenhagen that Koenig visited was Restaurant Format Restaurant Format is a collaboration between the people behind the Michelin Restaurant Formula B, U Formel and Restaurant Palaegade, William Smith and Morten Steen Andersen. It is located in the trendy new Hotel SKT. Annae hotel. Restaurant Format features the freshest locally sourced ingredients presented in New Nordic small plate cuisine.
Being in the food and hospitality industry for more than three decades, Koenig was surprised by the restaurant’s recent opening, given the stunning, artful presentation, complex flavor profiles of each course and the ease of flow from the kitchen – a sign that the team functions well together. Koenig commenced her five-course (small plates) prefix with a glass of champagne from an impressive and intimidating wine list. Food service began with deeply seeded warm bread muffins and butter, followed by:
Cured Pike-Perch, Quince, Seaweed, Smoked Tea Vinaigrette
Young Celeriac, Lovage, Crispy Potato, Egg Yolk
Agnolotti of Chicken, Wild Mushrooms, Roasted Chicken Consommé
Duck, Endive, Rose hip, Aromatic Sauce
Petit Gâteau of Pumpkin Seeds, Caramel, Chocolate
By contrast, another highlight of the tour was to Copenhagen Street Food, accessible by walking over one of many bridges to access Papirøen (Paper Island). Koenig described Copenhagen Street Food as an innovative food and beverage warehouse concept that rents to between 30-40 built-in quick service stalls that offers food from around the world mixed with lively atmosphere of classic rock, pop and R & B American music, nightly DJs and family-friendly game nights. “I had one of the most delicious duck sandwiches I have ever had from what is basically a pop-up restaurant. It goes to show that quality can be found in unexpected places and great flavor and delightful service is not commensurate with an establishment’s décor.”
Copenhagen is experiencing a boom in real estate development, which continues to increase demand for housing and the cost of living. An outcome of the boom is that Copenhagen Street Foods is closing December 22nd, as Papirøen will be developed for luxury condos.
Koenig had limited time to garner an abundance of knowledge about changes in culinary arts and any potential impact on Copenhagen culture. Although the changes in the culinary arts is evident, it wasn’t difficult for Koenig to see why the Danish remain the world’s happiest people. It’s embedded in their culture – which is one of simplicity. From the street line cafes illuminated by oil lanterns and consolidation of global street foods to Nordic-infused small plates – the simplicity of it all allows you to focus your energy on your companions. Bring all of this together, with overcast skies and a biting winds outside and you find yourself quite comfortable and content on the inside of any of these establishments. The Danish have a word for this feeling of contentment, it’s ‘hygge’ (/ug-‘ga’) – translated to mean a sense of happiness.