What is your ideal office?
I love to do office work in our summer house off season—everything is so quiet. That being said I am capable of doing the office work that has to be done anywhere.
What did you eat for breakfast this morning?
Fresh bread, cheese, jam, oat porridge with apple compote and cinnamon sugar. Tea, apple must and coffee. I generally like my breakfast to be simple and unadventurous.
Who has made a remarkable impression on you?
My three daughters, the way in which they have adapted to our new life in New York and to the American school system in particular. William Langewiesche, a phenomenal writer but also the most unexpectedly funny, helpful neighbor. Dan Barber and Michael Pollan in the world of food. Muhammad Ali and Martin Luther King. I have not met them, but they have somehow managed to inspire me deeply. As a kid, my father made me watch every single one of Muhammad Ali’s epic boxing matches. And I remember every one of them.
What dish or ingredient best embodies Nordic cuisine for you, and why?
Apples. Danish apples grow very close to the northernmost boundary of their existence, in a cool climate with a high influx of light. This “terroir” is perfect for kernel fruits, which is maybe why we have more than seven hundred apple varieties in the Nordic gene banks. Our apples are very aromatic and extremely versatile with a beautiful acidity. They do miracles in a shellfish soup, in a raw fish dish or in a warm roast pork sandwich, as well as warm in a number of winter dishes, not to mention in desserts. Also apples can be transformed into must (juice), cider (with alcohol), Sekt (Champagne method), sherry, eau-de-vie, jam, relish etc. A couple of years before opening Noma with René (Redzepi), I had bought an old orchard to start a vinegar project. The one-year-old balsamic apple vinegar that was one of the first products coming out of it became the signature acidity in the restaurant. We even used it for pickling rosehips, wild garlic and small onions.
Where would you prefer to eat your last meal?
At home with my family.
What would you do if you lost your sense of taste?
I would probably start to cry. Then I would do everything to win it back.
What was the first meal you remember cooking, and for whom?
It was for Pascal Lejeune in the 17th arrondissement in Paris in 1983. I stayed with his family as an au pair. And he asked me to do the cooking for them. The first meal I cooked was salade gourmande, boeuf daube and tarte Tatin.
What’s the magic word?
Is there anything you won’t eat?
I am not particularly fond of eating insects or intestines.
Who, if anyone, do you consider your rivals?
I do not think of anyone as a rival.
What is an unexpected source of inspiration for you?
Every one of my children, my big boy Valdemar (26) and my three daughters Augusta, Viola and Elvira (10, 13, 19). I never expected to be able to learn so much from each of them at such an early age.
What is your most treasured possession?
I am not a material person. But I am very attached to the places we call home.