Jesper KirketerpandRasmus Kliimlove gardening. They like to crawl around the restaurant’s own, almosttwo-hectare-large field outside Copenhagen to pick the ingredients for their menus. Back at theRadio restaurant,the congenial duo then convert all ingredients into the vegetarian-focused – there is little fish or meat– seasonal New Nordic Cuisine. A cuisine that is both simple and sophisticated and which leads discerninggourmets to ask in astonishment: “Is this really just vegetables?”
Jesper Kirketerp, born in 1979, discovered his passion for fresh, seasonal ingredients at some of Denmark’s finest restaurants, where his roles included chef at MR and sous chef under the Danish master René Redzepi at the world-famous Noma. He also worked as the head chef’s assistant at the two-star Geranium restaurant, where he pursued his passion for using regional ingredients and transforming them into sophisticated menus. He managed to win over the judges and take home the title at the renowned cooking competition Sol over Gudhjem on the island of Bornholm, where master chefs and starred chefs have been testing their skills against each other since 2009.
Kirketerp’s companion Rasmus Kliim is equally in love with nature and just as crazy about fresh ingredients. The top chef, born in 1982, also trained and worked at renowned culinary locations in Denmark and beyond. He enjoyed spells in restaurants such as the Michelin-starred Paustian, run by master chef Bo Bech, and the Alkimia in Barcelona, where Jordi Vilà rules the kitchen. He then joined Mads Refslund’s starred restaurant MR, before switching to Geist, where he teamed up with Bo Bech again behind the stove as Assisting Head Chef. In 2007, Kliim won the famous European Roussillon Dessert Trophy.
In 2011 came the call from Claus Meyer – chef and co-owner of Noma – which the duo promptly answered: Together, they opened Radio in Copenhagen’s Frederiksberg district.
What Kliim and Kirketerp serve up here in a relaxed environment is a local based restaurant in its freshest and most simple form, with sublime creations such as pickled mackerel with dehydrated carrots and butter milk or new potatoes with smoked cheese foam, peas and small potato chip bits, or crispy malt with beetroot cured in vanilla and milk ice cream.
What makes it so special? To ensure that only the best and freshest ingredients are used, Meyer employs two gardeners, who are responsible for planting herbs and vegetables in the restaurant’s own field outside Copenhagen. More than 80 species grow there and eventually end up in the pots and pans of both chefs. They combine these with fresh fruit from the small island of Lilleø, as well as produce from local fishermen and poultry farms, to create dishes that are rigidly based on the seasonal calendar. “We speak with the gardeners to find out when which products will be ripe enough to harvest. We then come together in the kitchen to discuss what we’d like to create and which consistencies and flavours we want to serve up,” is how Kirketerp summarises the concept.
Jesper Kirketerp and Rasmus Kliim have green fingers. With a great deal of skill and creativity, they manage to refine the produce from the restaurant’s own garden and put it on the plates of their guests in the form of simple, tasty creations. The taste says it all – and clearly shows that, although nature is a true miracle, it can be made even better.
A different top chef each month. It doesn‘t matter which continent or country they come from or whether they serve traditional, fusion or molecular cuisine. What matters most is the variety. And, of course, the high quality of the dishes.
Eckart Witzigmann, Chef of the Century and patron of Restaurant Ikarus, implemented the concept successfully from 2003 to 2013, together with Executive Chef Roland Trettl. Since January 2014, the Ikarus Concept has been continued under the patronage of Eckart Witzigmann and guidance of Martin Klein, who for many years was the partner and Chef de Cuisine of former Executive Chef Roland Trettl. Unique instead of mainstream, multi-faceted instead of simplistic, bold instead of boring, and cosmopolitan instead of narrow-minded will continue to be the motto under Martin. The result? Satisfied bons vivants who relish fine cuisine.
For the chefs of Restaurant Ikarus, the guest chef concept means adapting to a new menu, a new top chef and a new philosophy each and every month. This demands a high degree of talent, versatility and team spirit.
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Images© Helge Kirchberger / Red Bull Hangar-7