At a time when The Menu has effectively skewered the more pretentious elements of the chef-driven tasting menu experience, Alchemist boldly demonstrates how – if one gets it right – a lengthy immersive meal can still stimulate, surprise and delight myriad senses and leave the diner with an overwhelmingly positive lifetime memory.
The Copenhagen restaurant, situated in a cavernous warehouse on the city’s old docks, makes no bones about taking you on an intense gastronomic journey; if you want a tasty but simple supper, look elsewhere. But it succeeds in making the hours fly by because the production (and it really is a production) is executed with charm, self-awareness, skill and a huge dose of hospitality by a dedicated and talented team.
The evening is divided into a number of acts, each taking place in a different room within the overall space: from a pitch-black box on entry to a cocktail-style lounge and through to the main domed dining space, followed by surprise interactive rooms and a relaxed after-dinner salon. Each has a different vibe, complemented by art, drinks, audio-visual elements and – most importantly – delicious dishes, many of which carry important social messages with them.
Alchemist is the brainchild of culinary mastermind Rasmus Munk, still in his early 30s, who is backed by visionary owners in Lars and Yvonne Seier Christensen. However, the service team led by GM Lykke Metzger and wine director Nina Højgaard Jensen more than ably supports the chef’s extraordinary creative vision. Crucially, while dishes may reference issues as varied as battery farming, child labour, homelessness or food waste, the staff strike the right balance of engaging in conversation on these topics where prompted to do so, without over-imposing their narratives on unwilling guests.
The Alchemist experience gathers you into a warm and joyful embrace through its hospitality, while paradoxically challenging your perceptions, assumptions and tastes. It’s a restaurant that is asking important questions, but it unquestionably worthy of the Gin Mare Art of Hospitality Award 2023.
The Art of Hospitality Award is a special recognition for excellence in restaurant service and dining experiences. The accolade is voted for by the Academy, formed of 1,080 independent restaurant industry experts and well-travelled gourmets from across the world.
Discover more about the previous award winners