Restaurant Alchemist is one of the world’s most unique restaurants. The first Alchemist was founded in 2015 by Chef Rasmus Munk. This small restaurant, with 15 seats only, gained a solid reputation as one of Copenhagen’s most creative experience restaurants. With his tasting menus, Chef Rasmus shared memories and stories from his childhood and travels around the world. Every dish told a story or a philosophy of the chef and, above all, impressed the guests with great flavours.
In 2016, investor Lars Seier Christensen, who is also active with the three Michelin star restaurant Geranium in Copenhagen, approached Rasmus Munk to take restaurant Alchemist to the next level. The duo started brainstorming about the boundaries of gastronomy and decided to create a restaurant experience that had never been seen before. Restaurant Alchemist 2.0 was born
Alchemist 2.0 opened its doors on the 4th of July 2019, after an impressive construction, which costed around 15 million dollars – about 10 times over its original budget. It became one of the most hyped European restaurants in a just a matter of minutes with a waiting list of over 5000 people. The new restaurant is located in Refshaleøen in Copenhagen. This trendy and upcoming area was originally an island but now part of the larger island of Amager. For more than a hundred years, it was a former industrial site, which still characterizes the area’s identity today. Located just next to the harbour of Copenhagen, the sound and the smell of the sea are never far away.
The Alchemist experience starts right before entering the restaurant, when guest approach the door – or better, gates. The more than two tons weighing gates are made out of hand-sculpted bronze and open automatically while mysterious music welcomes the guests.
Quite the imposing entrance, indeed. When the gates close, the rollercoaster starts. For three up to five hours, guests are guided through five zones or “acts” divided over three floors, where they get to know Rasmus’ vision of gastronomy through no less than 50 courses.
Restaurant Interior / The Experience In 5 Acts
Restaurant Alchemist definitely has one of the world’s most impressive restaurant interiors. The dinner experience is divided into 5 acts which are divided over 5 areas:
The first act is the New-York room where guests get a philosophical but tasty welcome. We will not spoil all the fun, as it is better to discover yourself what this welcome is exactly.The second act is the lounge, where Champagne and around seven snacks set the tone for what is more to come.For the third act, guests take the stairs along the three-storey wine cabinet, which houses around 10.000 references. Guests choose their wines from an iPad with a custom-made application.The third act is enjoyed in “the Dome”, a breath-taking space that is made out of a giant dome with permanently changing projections, adapted to the dishes. Around 30 small courses are enjoyed in this truly remarkable dining area.The fourth act, the rainbow room, is a small walk in an ultra-technological space while a enjoying an… edible seahorse.The fifth and final act is the balcony, where guests enjoy the final sweet courses of the meal.The elevator that takes guests back to the ground floor and has a build-in screen on the floor, ensuring that the experience does not stop until guests get their coats.
For Rasmus, this approach to dining is called “Holistic dining”: a way of eating that is per definition multi-layered. It draws upon elements from theatre, art, and gastronomy, but also science, technology and design. By combining these elements, an intense, dramaturgically driven sensory experience is created.
Rasmus Munk is one of the worlds’ most remarkable chefs. Rasmus turns 30 years old in 2020 but demonstrates a dare and motivation to change the way we look at gastronomy of chefs twice that age. His cooking is equally impressive and while some dishes certainly draw inspiration from the oeuvre of other chefs, most of his dishes are mind-blowing ideas from Rasmus himself. And if you know he serves a menu of 50 courses, it should come to no surprise that the world “intelligent” has been used many times to describe this young chef’s cooking and character.
Rasmus has travelled the world and gained a lot of experience as an apprentice at some of the world’s best restaurants such as Noma, Geranium and The Fat Duck. It is interesting see how Rasmus uses elements from these work experiences at his own restaurant today: great products and fermentation techniques from Noma; an excellent service and luxurious setting from Geranium; and playful techniques and table experiences from The Fat Duck. What is also impressive is Rasmus’ courage in not choosing for a Nordic type of cooking style and using local and foraged seasonal produce only, like most other fine dining places in Copenhagen are doing. Instead, he creates his very own style with influences and ingredients from all over the world, and takes “experience dining” to a level that the world has never seen before.
Rasmus Munk’s food is hard to describe. It goes from highly molecular and extreme to pure and balanced, from light and volatile to filling and greasy. The foundations are made out of high quality ingredients, skilful preparation techniques and an often scientific approach to food. Flavours are not just flavours but the results of the tastings, the explanations and the philosophies behind it. Indeed, every dish tells a story or memory, or is meant to think about what and how we eat. Some striking examples:Plastic Fantastic : a dish made from grilled cod jaw brushed with smoked bone marrow, topped with a cream of Comté cheese. The “fantastic plastic” that tops the dish looks like plastic but is made from a dehydrated cod skin bouillon. This dish is a reference to the fact that up to one third of all cod caught in Northern Europe contains plastic.
Andy Warhol : Andy Warhol’s iconic banana gets an interpretation from chef Rasmus Munk in the form of a crispy casing made from banana juice, filled with a sorbet made from Manzano bananas, cachaça, tonka beans and caramelized egg yolk.
Food for Thought : the dish “Food for Thought” is served in an entire silicone head, which is opened at the table. Inside is a small dish that looks like a miniature sandwich and which consists out of sautéed foie gras in a Madeira casing, topped with a yuzu gel and aerated foie gras. The dish is meant to make us think about the consumption of foie gras and the treatment of the gees it comes from. It is also a tribute to foie gras producer Eduardo Sousa, who produces natural foie gras from wild geese that land in Spain once a year.
The Full 50-course Tasting Menu
Alchemy is an ancient practice, shrouded in mystery and secrecy. Its practitioners looked for a way to turn lead into gold. Rasmus Munk does quite the same at his restaurant Alchemist, but instead of turning lead into gold, the chef turns a meal into gastronomic theatre. The new Alchemist redefines the term “experience dining”. During a culinary ride with up to 50 culinary impressions in different areas, guests are guided on a journey through Rasmus Munk’s culinary dream. A form of gastronomic theatre that has not been seen before and which will impress even the most experienced gourmet lovers. A must, plain and simple.
Written by Sven & Frank