Thursday, September 21, 2023

Meat-Free, Local Fare Earns Geranium the World’s Best Restaurant Title


After years on its trail, Copenhagen’s Geranium edges out Noma to nab the title of ‘World’s Best Restaurant’ less than a year after dropping meat from its menu.

It was five years after chef Rasmus Kofoed stopped eating meat before he finally created a meat-free menu at Copenhagen’s Geranium. Always a focus on local ingredients, just like the tiny behemoth and former ‘World’s Best Restaurant’ title holder Noma, just a few minutes away, Geranium has leaned into biodynamic farming, foraged mushrooms, and less meat.

Geranium kitchen
Geranium kitchen, courtesy Claes Bech Poulsen

The vegan fine dining trend is just getting started; there’s Daniel Humm’s Eleven Madison Park menu; Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed has helped bring chef Matthew Kenney’s restaurants around the world. Jean-Georges has turned many of his menus towards plants, too. Last year, ONA became the first fully vegan restaurant in France earning a Michelin star—a first for a country known for its love of rich meats, foie gras, and dairy.

‘A clean slate’

Geranium is not vegan; seafood, eggs, and dairy are still on the menu. But its shift away from red meat, much like its focus on sourcing locally, signals a seachange in fine dining as climate change’s impact can no longer be ignored.

The shift was a natural progression for Kofoed. “I feel like we need a clean slate,” he told the Danish newspaper Berlingske.

“We are waving goodbye to our signature dishes and I think that is a big step,” Kofoed said.

“We are delighted to announce the list of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2022 and to celebrate Geranium as the new No.1,” William Drew, Director of Content for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, said in a statement.

“Rasmus Kofoed, Søren Ledet and their team have created an unforgettable dining experience, taking seasonal cooking to superlative heights and delivering precise, beautiful and elegant food that combines art and flavour alongside a ground-breaking drinks programme. Geranium has cemented its status as a global culinary destination and a much-deserved winner of the coveted title, The World’s Best Restaurant 2022,” Drew said. 

The title is awarded from votes by more than 1,000 industry experts on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy.

The Noma effect

Noma’s chef René Redzepi helped to bring the local food concept to fine dining nearly two decades ago. But it was always more than just local; there was a nose-to-tail and root-to-stem approach to the dishes; Redzepi often speaks about reimagining a carrot as part of Noma’s origin story.

“For us it all started by valuing the carrot as much as the steak,” Redzepi wrote. “In gastronomic terms, when it comes to flavour, there is no difference between them. It just takes questioning some preconceptions, and a bit of imagination. So here’s my suggestion, and my prediction, for 2014 and beyond: eat your vegetables.”

Noma brought a paradigm shift—one that its followers continue to riff on—the focus on local, reducing food waste, and, eventually, its own plant-based menu, too.

Noma, courtesy

In 2016, Geranium became the first Danish restaurant to earn three Michelin stars. But that didn’t stop Kofoed and Ledet from evolving the menu and replacing meat, which made up many of its award-winning signature dishes.

“My kitchen at Geranium has long been focused on vegetables, fish, and shellfish as the star on the plate, with small quantities of meat,” Kofoed, who also won Bocuse d’Or in 2011, shared on Instagram last year. “The menu is a reflection of me, of who I am and how I am evolving as a chef and as a human being. I haven’t been eating meat for the last five years at home, so to no longer use meat on the new menu was a logical decision and a natural progression for Geranium.

“I see it as a challenge to create new dishes which celebrate seafood from the pristine waters and vegetables from the local, organic/bio-dynamic farms which thrive here in Denmark and in Scandinavia,” he continued. “From my perspective, change is good, we grow from it, we learn from it, we step out of our comfort zone and often we benefit from it.”

The World’s 50 Best Restaurants

5PujolMexico City
6Asador EtxebarriAtxondo
7A Casa do PorcoSão Paulo
8Lido 84Gardone Riviera
9QuintonilMexico City
10Le CalandreRubano
14Don JulioBuenos Aires
15RealeCastel di Sangro
17Nobelhart & SchmutzigBerlin
19Piazza DuomoAlba
21MugaritzSan Sebastian
23The JaneAntwerp
24The ChairmanHong Kong
26Restaurant Tim RaueBerlin
27Hof Van CleveKruishoutem
28Le ClarenceParis
29St. HubertusSan Cassiano
33AtomixNew York
34Hiša FrankoKobarid
35The Clove ClubLondon
37FynCape Town
40Schloss SchauensteinFürstenau
41La CimeOsaka
42Quique DacostaDenia
44Le BernardinNew York
47OtequeRio de Janeiro


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