Photo: Mark Wickens

Scholarship article

New Nordic inspiration

Claus Meyer is credited with creating the new Nordic cuisine concept and has opened numerous food enterprises, which make him the perfect mentor for the entrepreneurs behind alternative food company Wholi.

It’s impossible to stick to one label on Claus Meyer. In addition to being a chef, the 55-year old is a passionate speaker, cookbook author and gastronomic entrepreneur.

He is most famous though for his role in creating new Nordic cuisine and co-founding the Michelin-starred restaurant NOMA, which led the “New Nordic Way”.Photo: Mark Wickens

For the past three years, he has been based in New York where he has launched the Great Northern Food Hall and Agern restaurant, which was awarded a Michelin star after just six months. In 2017, he expanded his portfolio with the Brownsville Community Culinary Center – a restaurant and catering college for vulnerable young people in Brooklyn. With his US and home experience he has faced the kinds of challenges that go with starting a business in a foreign country.

“You need to learn about legislation in the country and you need to understand the culture of forming partnerships with others. You need to know how people think, when to employ people and plan projects, but also what they want out of it. Plus, you need to have an understanding of consumer habits and the food culture.”

Malena Sigurgeirsdottir and Jessica Buhl-Nielsen, founders of Wholi, visited Meyer in New York with the help of their SAS Scholarship grant.

Meyer told them that he saw great potential in the idea to use protein-rich foods to replace meat or fish.

“It may not be a big market, but it’s growing,” he says. “There’s been a big focus on sustainability in the past five years, so if they can gain a foothold, Wholi has an opportunity to take a share of the market. It’s interesting that they’re trying to find a solution to the problem that meat production has a big impact on the environment and climate.”  

“I’m someone who sees opportunities in everything and a great deal of what I’ve created has had a Corporate Social Responsibility dimension. I’ve often wanted to create something that solved a problem. But when with the benefit of hindsight, I would advise myself to launch fewer projects. I’ve started over 30 enterprises. Also, I would remember to pat myself on the back along the way and say: You’ve done well enough, Claus Meyer.”

After three intensive years in New York, Meyer has now moved back to Denmark and in the immediate future, will concentrate on his businesses in Meyer Gruppen, which has around 800 employees. 

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