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FOOD & DRINK

Nordic chef sets up world’s northernmost Michelin restaurant in Greenland

You can only get there by boat or helicopter, but Michelin-starred chef Poul Andrias Ziska hopes his restaurant in remote Greenland, far above the Arctic Circle, is worth the journey.

Accommodation at the Ilimanaq Lodge, the current home of the KOKS restaurant, on 28th June, 2022
Accommodation at the Ilimanaq Lodge, the current home of the KOKS restaurant, on 28th June, 2022 in Ilimanaq, Greenland, where guests can watch whales and floating icebergs in the Disko Bay. Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP

The 30-year-old chef relocated his restaurant KOKS from the Faroe Islands in mid-June, leaving behind his relatively accessible address for Ilimanaq, a
hamlet of 50 inhabitants hidden behind icebergs on the 69th parallel north.

Housed in a narrow black wooden house, one of the oldest in Greenland, the restaurant can only accommodate about 20 people per service, and experiments with local produce, including whale and seaweed, with fresh produce almost impossible to find in the harsh climate.

“We try to focus on as much Greenlandic products as possible, so everything from Greenland halibut to snow crabs to musk ox to Ptarmigan, different herbs and different berries,” the tousled-haired, bearded chef tells AFP.

Double-Michelin-starred Faroese chef of KOKS restaurant Poul Andrias Ziska is photographed outside the restaurant housed in the Poul Egedes House in Ilimanaq, Greenland on 28th June 2022

Double-Michelin-starred Faroese chef of KOKS restaurant Poul Andrias Ziska is photographed outside the restaurant housed in the Poul Egedes House in Ilimanaq, Greenland on 28th June 2022. Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP

The young chef previously ran KOKS at home in the remote Faroe Islands, where he won his first star in 2017, his second in 2019, and the title of the
world’s most isolated Michelin restaurant. 

He plans to return there for a permanent installation, but explains he had always wanted to stretch his gastronomical legs in another territory in the
far north, like Iceland, Greenland or even Svalbard.

He finally chose Ilimanaq, located an hour’s boat trip from Ilulissat, the third-largest town in Greenland and famous for its huge glacier.

Greenland, the world’s largest island, is an autonomous Danish dependent territory.

Local products

“We just found it more suitable, more fun to do something completely different before we move back in our permanent restaurant,” he tells AFP from
his kitchen, set up in a trailer outside the house with the dining area.

With 20 courses, the extensive tasting menu will delight the taste buds for some 2,100 kroner ($280), excluding wine and drinks.

“The menu is exquisite and sends you to the far north and back,” Devid Gualandris, a charmed visitor, tells AFP.

“From the whale bites to the wines, from the freshly caught fish and shellfish to the curated desserts, everything is bursting with flavour.”

While whale meat is a staple food in Greenland and Ziska’s native Faroe Islands, whaling is banned in most of the world and activists have called for
an end to the practice.

A KOKS chef prepares food at the kitchen of the restaurant housed in the Poul Egedes House in Ilimanaq, Greenland, on 28th June 2022.

A KOKS chef prepares food at the kitchen of the restaurant housed in the Poul Egedes House in Ilimanaq, Greenland, on 28th June 2022. Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP

An unlikely locale for a gourmet restaurant, Ilimanaq — Greenlandic for “place of hope” — is home to a small community living in picturesque wooden
houses, next to hiking trails and more fittingly a luxury hotel, making it an ideal stopover for wealthy tourists seeking to explore new frontiers.

For Ziska, the customers in Greenland are different.

“There are a lot of people for which the number one priority is to visit Greenland and then they come to our restaurant,” he says.

“In the Faroe Islands we had mainly people interested in coming and eating at our restaurant and then obviously also visiting the Faroe Islands,” the
chef explains.

In addition to the adventurers who have already been lured by the Arctic landscape, the Greenlandic Tourist Board hopes the restaurant will also help
attract gourmet travellers.   

People get seated in a restaurant overlooking Disko Bay in Ilulissat, western Greenland, on 30th June, 2022.

People get seated in a restaurant overlooking Disko Bay in Ilulissat, western Greenland, on 30th June, 2022. Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP

“The unique combination of high-level gastronomy, the inherent sustainability of the North Atlantic cuisine and the characteristic nature and resources of the Disko Bay, speaks to all our senses,” Visit Greenland’s director, Hjortur Smarason, said when announcing the arrival of KOKS.

Accommodation at the Ilimanaq Lodge, the current home of the KOKS restaurant in Ilimanaq, Greenland, where guests can watch whales and floating icebergs in the Disko Bay. Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP

A long-overlooked destination, Greenland — an Arctic island territory nine times the size of the UK — welcomed more than 100,000 tourists in 2019, nearly double its population, before Covid cut the momentum.

Smarason said the presence of KOKS “is exactly what we strive for in our effort to reach a certain distinguished kind of guests”.  The restaurant is open between the 12th June and 8th September, 2022 and 2023. 

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MONEY

Why coffee could cost more for Danish consumers in 2022

The price of raw coffee beans recently reached its highest level for ten years, media in Scandinavia report, a trend which is likely to impact consumer prices in the region.

A photo of coffee beans in Denmark. Consumers in the country may soon notice a higher cost per cup.
A photo of coffee beans in Denmark. Consumers in the country may soon notice a higher cost per cup. File photo: Mathias Svold/Ritzau Scanpix

Raw coffee currently costs more than at any time in the last decade, Norwegian financial media E24 reported on Tuesday.

A doubling of the cost per kilo during the last year, reported by E24 in the summer, has been followed by further increased in recent months. The current price of 37 Norwegian kroner (28.3 Danish kroner) per kilogram is the highest for a decade, the media writes.

That is in spite of a strengthening of Norway’s currency against the US dollar, according to E24. The Danish krone is also currently strong.

Because raw coffee beans are always traded in dollars, with prices set by the New York Stock Exchange a strong exchange rate should theoretically make the beans cheaper to import to Nordic countries.

“I think we are seeing a new normal when it comes to the industrial market price of coffee,” Ola Brattås, head of imports with Norwegian chain Kaffebrenneriet, told E24.

Higher prices have already made an impression on Danish coffee companies.

Markets for the product are currently uncertain, said Lars Aaen Thøgersen, head of communication and development with Peter Larsen Kaffe.

“It’s been this way for some time. There has been uncertainty around the harvest, particularly in Brazil,” Thøgersen told news wire Ritzau.

Drought in Brazil, linked to illegal rainforest logging and climate change, is reported by E24 as a key factor in coffee prices. The International Coffee Organization’s September 2021 report also mentions weather in Brazil.

That has compounded higher transport costs and general uncertainty related to the coronavirus pandemic, he added.

Although companies like Peter Larsen can purchase coffee directly from producers and thereby avoid financial markets, they are unable to avoid knock-om effects of high market values, according to Thøgersen.

“When this happens, all supplies around us are affected. So that naturally also affects our situation,” he said.

That means consumers are likely to also feel the effects at some point down the line, the coffee company spokesperson said.

“Consumers can already feel that prices have gone up now, and it will quite likely also be felt further,” he said.

“But it should also be put into perspective, because if you calculate per cup of coffee, a consumer will only notice a few øre (difference in price),” he also noted.

Supermarket chain Coop, which owns the Kvickly, Superbrugsen and Irma stores in Denmark, is currently negotiating 2022 supplier prices. The outcome of those negotiations is not yet known,” head of information Jens Juul Nielsen told Ritzau.

“How this will be felt on store shelves, we can’t yet say,” Nielsen said.

READ ALSO: Denmark’s energy prices hit highest level for nine years

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