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Michelin chef Wassim Hallal at Frederikshøj.Photo: Benjamin Lund Nielsen
Michelin chef Wassim Hallal at Frederikshøj.Photo: Benjamin Lund Nielsen

Food & Drink

Star chef Wassim Hallal is a gastro ambassador for Aarhus

With its uncompromising approach to high quality produce and three Michelin starred restaurants, Aarhus has become a top class gourmet region. Wassim Hallal, star chef and ambassador for Aarhus European Region of Gastronomy 2017, has helped put Aarhus on the gastronomy world map.

The Danish gastronomy wave started in Copenhagen, but we are really noticing it now,” Hallal says. “Over the past three years, an incredible amount has happened in Aarhus - a new restaurant opens almost every minute.”

Hallal's own flagship Frederikshøjkroen was crowned the best restaurant in Denmark in 2012, and in 2015 received the first Michelin star in Denmark outside Copenhagen along with two other Aarhus restaurants, Gastromé and Substans.

“The Michelin star means incredibly much. It is an acknowledgment of what I have worked so many years for – to create fine dining in Aarhus. I really wanted to show that we can create really good food in Jutland, too. The Michelin star has meant that we are always fully booked three months ahead. It also means that you cannot simply step inside and get a table and see what we have to offer. That's the other side of the coin.”

Smørrebrød a la Wassim Hallal. Photo: Benjamin Lund Nielsen

“I have always had a winner mentality, whatever I do. Even when I am riding with my amateur cycling team, I always want to push on and make us all do that bit more,” he says with a smile.

The interior of Frederikshøjkroen reflects Hallal's exalted ambitions. Leather furniture, thick carpets, shiny copper lights, Kvium paintings and gold dessert spoons signal discreet luxury rather than typical, Nordic minimalism. And this is totally deliberate.

“My concept has been the same from day one. I cook food, I would like to eat myself. It should be innovative, it should look good and above all, it should taste good. Nouvelle Nordic Cuisine is just not what I´m about.”

 
“My concept has been the same from day one. I cook food, I would like to eat myself.”

 

Many of the Michelin cuisine's superb raw materials are local. 

“What’s really fantastic about Aarhus is what's right around it. We have everything on our doorstep - the woods, water, fields,” he says. “I love potatoes, carrots and all the fruits of the forest. There we source chanterelles, ceps and herbs such as sweetscented bedstraw, beech shoots, Oxalis acetosella and elderflower. We get our lobsters from the fjord, oysters from Limfjord and chestnuts from the tree outside,” he says.

Carefully selected local chanterelles Photo: Benjamin Lund Nielsen

“As a gastronomic ambassador, I want to show what Aarhus is capable of in relation to the development of gastronomy and create something that transcends Denmark's borders. And I want us to think outside the box and use our proximity to raw materials to make something new and to raise our standards,” Hallal says.

Text: Lise Hannibal

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