”I experienced a job that was exceptionally executed, which cannot be described in words. But it was beautiful and great.” This quote is to be found in the great French newspaper Le Monde about the winner performance of Kenneth Toft-Hansen from North Jutland at the unofficial world championship for chefs – Bocuse d’Or 2019. The quote is jury chairman Christophe Bacquié’s, whom himself is a three-star Michelin chef and the winner of seven Bocuse d’Or world championships.
The fact that the sensational victory this year belongs to the super talented and ambitious chef at Svinkløv Badehotel has spread worldwide in the gastronomic sphere. On top of it all, the silver and bronze statuettes were won by respectively Sweden and Norway out of the amazing chefs from 24 countries that had qualified for the finals. This is only the second time that a Danish chef wins. The first Danish winner was Rasmus Kofoed – the man behind Denmark´s only three-star Michelin restaurant so far, Geranium in Copenhagen, who won the golden statuette in 2011. Kofoed has in act also been a competent coach for 36-year-old Kenneth up to and during this year’s competition.
Flora Danica on the plates
The two servings that convinced the jury towards a North Jutlandic victory this year are described as “Flora Danica” – named after the classic Danish encyclopedias regarding Danish flowers and plants.
The servings are described by a Danish reviewer of the daily newspaper Politiken, whom had tasted the servings beforehand, as, “An edible painting and sauce that you want to lick off the plate”.
The task of the competition consisted in creating two main courses – eight servings of each. Four types of shellfish had to be incorporated in the first dish; oisters, common mussels, cockles and scallops. The shellfish had to be prepared as a classic French chartreuse, which is a dish where the meat is layered with vegetables and salad.
Toft-Hansen has beforehand described his courses to Nordjyske.dk,
“Half of the first course shall consist of greens – that means vegetarian ingredients. This is a demand from the competition. I have, therefore, chosen an Italian type of salad – Indian mustard and Romanesco salad with cabbage sprouts, cauliflower, apples and tarragon.”
Toft-Hansen’s main course of veal was created with the North Sea, the nearest neighbour of Svinkløv Badehotel, as theme.”
“I wanted to be inspired by the natural landscape by the North Sea and at all seasons. For me, it has been obvious to use the North Sea as a tale from Denmark. I will include both the sand and the water in the tale.”
Toft-Hansen, therefore, created his veal-dish with dog roses, ramson, juniper berries and North Sea cheese.
3D-technology as a contributory factor
Contributory to Toft-Hansen’s victory was possibly his moulds that had either been 100 % 3D-printed or created based on 3D-printet models. The 3D-printed mould played and important role in that it created a perfect expression for the shellfish mousse – a chartreuse – which was the heart of the starter. The moulds also helped creating the elegant Jerusalem artichoke chips and the lifelike beet root rose that accompanied the main dish. The advantage of 3D-printed moulds are that they can be disassembled in multiple parts to prevent the food from breaking.
Førnævnte mousse blev i øvrigt pakket ud af formen lige foran dommerne.
Toft-Hansen himself was extremely satisfied with the 3D-printed moulds, and even though he has been working with the technology for multiple years, he still gets surprised by the possibilities thereof, “It surprised me that the beet root rose with naturally drawn leaves, which we have been working on long before the finals of Bocuse d’Or, became so perfect as it did, because when you make that type of moulds there is a lot that one needs to be aware of. But with 3D-printing, you have to put away one’s limitations because what was not possible earlier is possible now,” he said according to Fødevarefokus.dk.
The people behind
Bocuse d’Or is not won on one’s own, and Toft-Hansen has also described the many hours of training and the performance in Lyon as the result of a teamwork with amongst others the assistant Christian Wellendorf, whom at the championship was awarded the prize “Best Commis Chef”, for his perfect assistant work.
Toft-Hansen must also have his home front under control as well as the daily work at Svinkløv Badehotel. Toft-Hansen has together with his wife Louise Toft managed the in Denmark historical beach hotel in Svinkløv since 2015. The hotel burned in 2016 but is reopening Easter this year.
About the meeting with Louise Toft in 2013, the Danish magazine “Alt for Damerne” narrates that she, in her at the time TV-job, had to screen test Toft-Hansen for a TV-programme called “Madklubben” (The Food Club). Toft-Hansen had – as told by Toft – offered to pick her up at the railway station in Aarhus, where he lived at the time, while he was embarking on the preparations for Bocuse d’Or 2014, in which he came in as number 6..
“Kenneth was not what I expected. I had done my research on him in connection with the tv-programme and I had found a clip where he walks around in the woods with a basket, and I thought “what a nerd”. But the Kenneth that I met at the railway station was not a nerd at all. He took in the room and I immediately felt safe around him”, Toft said.
Chef with a great background
Toft-Hansen is born in Silkeborg in 1982. According to Bocuse d’Or’s Danish website, Toft-Hansen entered the cooking world as a dishwasher and was thereby caught by the atmosphere in the kitchen – afterwards the love of the ingredients.
He was trainee at Munkebo Kro from 2000 to 2004. Since that, the has been a chef at amongst other Henne Kirkeby Kro, Molskroen and he has been chef at Restaurant Piaf, Prins Ferdinand, Lubker Golf Resort, and he now takes a lease on Svinkløv Badehotel.
Toft-Hansen has many idols within his field. He especially greatly admires Alfonso Laccarino. Of Danish chefs he especially accentuates Per Brun for his intransigence and Jens Peter Kolbeck, whom he thinks masters all facets of the field.
The Victory supports GastroNorth goal
At GastroNorth, we are also very happy about the amazing victory of Kenneth Toft-Hansen, as this will benefit other restaurants and the tourism trade within North Jutland. GastroNorth with 10 North Jutland top-restaurants as members work towards more international awareness of North Jutland gastronomy – and exactly that has Toft-Hansen delivered. Congratulations and thank you!
“This will have a great and beneficial impact on other restaurants and the tourism trade in North Jutland because many international gastro-tourists now has to dine at Svinkløv. But where should the guests dine at day two? – They will mopst likely choose another excellent restaurant in North Jutland”, says GastroNorth’s head of communication Mads Stenstrup to the Danish TV-channel TV2Nord.