Native Cooking Award 2016 (Denmark)
The Native Cooking Award is a yearly unique international competition for top chefs. It is an outdoor team event which takes place on the beautiful Knuthenlund Estate, Lolland, Denmark. The chefs get one day to explore the area for ingredients, and cook a three course meal for an international jury the day after. They can only make use of some ingredients from the Knuthenlund Estate and ingredients they get from foraging. They get some basic tools for cooking, like a barbecue and a wood oven, and have no access to electrical appliances. This year, the contest was held with teams from France, Belgium, Norway, Sweden and Denmark.
All pictures by Kris Vlegels
The Knuthenlund Estate is among the largest organic farms in Denmark. The estate has about 400 sheep, and at present more than 600 lambs. At the farm’s dairy, Knuthenlund produces a range of dairy products based on the milk from the sheep: cheese, cream, milk and yogurt. Today, the property is owned by the passionate Susanne Hovmand-Simonsen, representing the fourth generation at the location. Susanne manages this project with all her heart and lives in and with nature. She strives to take the utmost care with what she produces, and that is something you will taste in the products.
Knuthenlund is located about 1.5h drive from Copenhagen and is really worth the visit if you’re around. In Belgium, you can get the Knuthenlund products from Carnivale.
The Belgian Team
For the edition of 2016, the Belgians were present with an impressive team of young top chefs:
- Nick Bril (Captain), Restaurant The Jane, Antwerp
- Michael Vrijmoed, Restaurant Vrijmoed, Gent (Young Chef of The Year Gault&Millau)
- Marcello Ballardin, Restaurant OAK, Gent (Young Chef of The Year Gault&Millau)
- Tim Boury, Restaurant Boury, Roeselare (Young Chef of The Year Gault&Millau)
They were assisted by 1 Belgian jury member, Julien Burlat from restaurant Dome in Antwerp.
On the first day, Saturday, the different teams went exploring the area together with the jury and the press. There was a guided tour on the farm and different trips to the fields nearby, the woods, and the sea. It was beautiful the see the variety of products available on the Knuthenlund estate, and the way the team takes care of their land and products.
The different participating teams got the chance to find out what they were going to forage for their three-course meal the day after. A great opportunity for the chefs to come closer to the products with which they work so often.
After these trips, a delicious dinner was served with products from the Knuthenlund estate. After dinner, the different teams got together to create their menu…
On Sunday, the official contest started at 9 o’clock in the morning. Two of the chefs stayed in the tents where they could start preparing the barbecue and the oven, while the other received bikes to go foraging.
Each team received a selection of ingredients to use in a three-course menu, which was served for an international jury on Sunday afternoon. The five teams also had the following food at hand:
- Meat: A quarter part of a lamb (front part), together with lamb liver, kidney and heart
- Dairy Products: Yoghurt, cream and whey from sheep, fresh sheep cheese, raw milk and buttermilk from cow.
- Cereals: Wholemeal Spelt, wheat (an old Nordic sort: ølandshvede), rye and grains from ølandshved.
- Vegetables: New, small Danish potatoes from Hoby. Picked by hand.
Finally, the team received a selection of food products from Lolland-Falster:
- Apple Cider Vinegar from Bandholm Frugtplantage
- Apple cider and musts from the Kernegaarden
- Forest honey from Knuthenlund
- Lolland Guldøl from Krenkerup brewery
Besides these products, the teams went foraging themselves on selected spots on the Knutenlund estate (forest, fields, seashore and gardens).
The teams had 4 hours to prepare a three-course menu based on these products.
The Belgian team did an amazing job and created the following menu:
First course: raw tartare of lamb and lamb heart, a sauce of wild garlic and yogurt, and a naan bread without yeast. Finished with local herbs and flowers.
Main course: baked rack of lamb with mashed potatoes with algae, sea lettuce, spices and buttermilk, and a ravioli with confit of lamb’s neck, shoulder and wild garlic. The plate was finished with a sauce of braised lamb’s neck and shoulder. Side dish: lollipop of lamb liver with cherry vinegar vinaigrette and pine.
Dessert: variation on a salad: letucce with a sauce of apple, pine, lemon balm and rhubarb, cream of sorrel, yogurt cream, honey, crumble, wheat flowers and jam of rhubarb.
The Belgian team won the press price with their menu and received the Silver overall award from the international jury. Sweden won the first price.