Every summer, chef Nicolai Nørregaard returns to his roots on the rocky Danish island of Bornholm to forage for ingredients that will flavor his food throughout the seasons.
For five weeks starting in June he closes his restaurant Kadeau in Copenhagen and ships his young chefs out to the forested islet. There, at the original Kadeau, the toques serve 82 lunch and dinner covers, while squirrelling away produce picked in the wild and harvesting fruit and vegetable crops. Lichen, moss, ferns, blackcurrant leaves, spruce tips, woodruff flowers, and berries are just some of the finds that are pickled and preserved to be plated come winter.
Such demands on his time, and his popularity, meant that when the first Copenhagen outpost of Kadeau opened in 2007, it quickly proved too small. After earning a Michelin star, it moved to a new harborside space near Denmark’s famous Noma, where Nørregaard, 36, turned out seven-course tasting menus. But the concept bored him and, at the end of 2015, he moved Kadeau back to smaller premises next door to his popular and more casual spot El Dorado. The scale down allowed the chef the freedom to experiment again. “No dogma, no rules,” he says. “Nordic cooking is a dogma. We’ve thrown all that away to cook what inspires us.”
The new restaurant conforms to his idea of a homey Danish aesthetic. In tandem with Thomas Lykke, co-founder of Copenhagen’s OeO studios, robust materials in natural, earthy colors were applied to the interiors: wood and stone, burnished copper and brass, stoneware ceramics and rough linen on oak tables. “My brief was to avoid white walls,” Lykke says. “No white anywhere, in fact, but for the chef’s uniforms. I was asked to create an aura, a soul, an ambience—like coming home to a friendly and welcoming place.”