Faroese restaurant to make Greenland detour | Polarjournal
The hills around Koks are alive with the taste of the Faroe Islands (Photo: Koks)

In the world of the gourmand, two Michelin stars signify that a restaurant’s cooking is “worth a detour”. This is something Koks, a Faroese restaurant that has held that ranking since 2019, will be taking literally, if in a personal-development sort of way, in 2022 and 2023: during the coming two summer seasons, it will shutter its operations and temporarily take over the kitchen of an exclusive Greenlandic restaurant.

Located at the exclusive and remote Ilimanaq Lodge, an hour’s sail from Ilulissat, a major tourism destination, Restaurant Egede professes to running a kitchen that is committed to using Greenlandic ingredients in meals that cleave to tenets the New Nordic food manifesto, a set of principles holds chefs to demanding standards of purity, seasonality, sustainability and quality.

All of this is in keeping with the philosophy that Koks itself has cultivated since 2011 of using Faroese-sourced — oftentimes foraged — ingredients prepared using traditional techniques such as drying, fermenting, salting and smoking. Michelin describes the resulting dishes, somewhat contradictorily, as “pure, yet complex”.

Ilimanaq Lodge lies south of Ilulissat and can only be reached by boat. This off-the-beaten-path location in Greenland is in line with the Koks philosophy in the Faroe Islands where the restaurant is only accessible by Land Rover.

Despite its attention to the details of its menu, Koks is just as well known for its own off-the-beaten-path location on a lake a half an hour drive from Tórshavn, the Faroese capital, the final leg of which must be taken in a Land Rover — and indeed perhaps even more so, given the limited number of people who have eaten there (it seats only 30 people each evening during its April-September season). If its food-preparation techniques are hailed as ground-breaking, it is the rustic setting that has gone a long way towards earning the kitchen its reputation for elevating what, for previous generations, might just have been considered the daily meal to haut cuisine.

The jaunt to Greenland is not the first time that Koks will have brought its food-making philosophy elsewhere; during the pandemic, for example, it opened a more down-to-earth establishment in Tórshavn on a temporary basis that it will continue to run in 2022, in addition to a second operation there it plans to overtake. And, before heading west for Greenland, its chefs will do a four-week stint in Singapore starting later this month.

Restaurants that close their kitchens, even temporarily, are stripped of their Michelin stars, but Koks’ reputation and the fact that its staff will be keeping itself busy in the interim should make it a shoo-in to regain them, if it reopens a Faroese restaurant in 2024, as planned. In Greenland, the hope is that the exchange will enrich the national kitchen by inspiring its chefs and restaurateurs. Koks, for example, will, in keeping with its principles, use local ingredients in its Ilimanaq kitchen, and it will provide training to Greenlandic chefs.

Such lessons will mean that, even after Koks’ detour comes to an end, Greenland’s guests will continue be served the meals of their lifetimes.

Kevin McGwin

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