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Ten years ago, René Redzepi revolutionised haute cuisine with his New Nordic Cuisine movement. Today, Redzepi’s groundbreaking way of thinking is firmly established in the history of haute cuisine and a new generation of Nordic chefs is entering the spotlight. Amongst them is Poul Andrias Ziska, a young chef from the Faroe Islands who is interpreting the New Nordic Cuisine in an irresistably modern and simple way at the KOKS restaurant in Tórshavn, demonstrating in a most impressive manner that the revolution is far from over.
By the time he had graduated from the culinary school in Aalborg, Denmark, Poul Andrias Ziska was already working as a Sous Chef at KOKS. Armed with a culinary degree, he travelled abroad in order to hone his skills through placements at Rasmus Kofoed’s Restaurant Geranium in Copenhagen, which boasts two Michelin stars and Mugaritz in Errenteria, Spain, where he worked under Andoni Luis Anduriz. In 2014, at the tender age of just 24, he returned to his roots, assuming the position of head chef at KOKS.
In the true spirit of the New Nordic Cuisine, the KOKS head chef uses only regional produce.
The famous “manifest” drawn up by René Redzepi, which not only revolutionised haute cuisine at the turn of the Millennium, but also raised the bar in terms of awareness of local roots and sustainability, holds a special place within Ziska’s philosophy.
I am convinced that this is the best way to discover and learn about ingredients. The biggest challenge comes when you don’t have access to everything that you need.
You may think that the selection of regional products available in a country as small as the Faroe Islands is as restricted as its size suggests, but you couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, the 18 islands and the ever-present sea offer a diverse range of exciting ingredients that simply has to be seen to be believed. A range of ingredients that chefs on the Continent can only dream of having access to. That is why it is not unusual to find moss, seaweed and sandwort that have been harvested directly from the rugged coasts of the islands, in the culinary creations served up by Poul Andrias Ziska.
The starring role, however, belongs of course to two other ingredients. On the one hand there is the fish: the sheer variety that can be caught in the North Atlantic is simply breathtaking: the waters surrounding the Faroe Islands are home to more than 250 different species. On the other hand there are the sheep, which inhabit the green, hilly expanses found on the islands, and which lend their name to their home – “Føroyar” translates as none other than “sheep islands”. Lamb and fish are used, either fresh or preserved using the “raest” method, which is found only on the Faroe Islands and has been practised since primitive times as a means of fermenting and drying meat and fish. Unlike in many other places, this preservation method uses neither salt nor smoke. Instead, the job is done by nature, the wind and the weather.
This makes for a much more satisfying and intense flavour
The ingredients are presented to his guests in dishes that are delightfully simple yet impressively elaborate. Whether it’s roast lamb with sorrel, raw salmon with leeks and goat’s cheese or sea urchin paired with pickled parsley stems, every dish is presented as a unique work of art in which Ziska interprets the landscape, architecture and culture of his homeland.
Ziska is well aware that there is a certain amount of disaccord between the elaborate presentation of his dishes and the simplicity of Faroese cuisine:
When I’m at home, I don’t try and cook in the most original way possible. It’s all very down-to-earth. In my opinion, that is not how haute cuisine restaurants should be. However, as a guest, you really want to experience something.
The new generation of the New Nordic Cuisine is looking very impressive – and word that it tastes as good as it looks has in the meantime spread far beyond the confines of the Faroese borders. That is what led to Ziska’s KOKS being named the “best restaurant in the Nordic countries” by Nordic Prize in 2015. It’s not unusual for guests to make an extra detour via the tiny airport in Tórshavn just to visit KOKS.
In February 2016, however, you will not need to fly to the Faroe Islands to experience this. Poul Andrias Ziska himself will be presenting his artistic creations as guest chef at Restaurant Ikarus at Hangar-7 in Salzburg.
Each month at Salzburg’s two Michelin-starred Restaurant Ikarus, a different top international chef creates the menu. For this globally unique concept, Hangar-7 executive chef Martin Klein visits the cream of the crop, takes a look behind the scenes of haute cuisine, and is let in on some exciting culinary secrets. “Culinary Heights at Ikarus” offers a unique glimpse into the world of high-end cuisine and provides an interesting portrait of each guest chef, their culinary philosophy, and the food culture of their country.