Lebanese-Danish Chef Wassim Hallal is without a doubt, one of the most dedicated, uncompromising and hardest working, perfectionist Danish chefs – to date! Meet the Danish Ambassador for the European Region of Gastronomy.
“My food doesn’t fit into any box, and I don’t want it,” says Wassim Hallal. “I want people to come to my restaurant and have a spectacular experience that they couldn’t have anywhere else.”
Wassim Hallal is undoubtedly one of the best in the world of gastronomy. Last year the Turkish Foundation of Cinema and Audiovisual Culture introduced a gastronomy section for the Rendezvous Istanbul International Film Festival and invited him to meet Turkish fans.
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His restaurant Fredrikshøj in Aarhus has become so popular that it is booked up several months in advance, with most diners opting for the full 17-course menu. However, six- and ten course options are also available. The restaurant has maintained its one-star Michelin rating for the fourth year in a row now. Many wonders why it hasn’t received more stars.
Hallal believes people in Scandinavia’s fine dining society have moved away from Michelin, and we agree. A new way of judging restaurants has emerged. Whereas Michelin still judges on classic fine dining criteria, things like the 50 Best list have made darlings of the most experimental ones. Personally, I have spoken to several people who feel like Michelin hasn’t been rewarding the most innovative restaurants.
Fine dining in beautiful surroundings
Wassim Hallal’s fine dining restaurant Frederikshøj sits on the seafront of one of Denmark’s most diverse landscapes. Set on top of a slight hill at the foot of the Marselisborg forest and on the periphery of the country’s main farming district Jutland, it is the perfect place to dig into everything this happily placed city can offer.
There Hallal produces some of the most attractive, beautiful and playful food I’ve seen in the scope of Danish gastronomy and has continued to operate what many foodies have labeled the best one-star restaurant in Denmark. Housed in a somewhat unassuming, minimalist, modernist building, it is – on the inside – a setting of ultimate luxury.
Related: Michelin Stars in Scandinavia
Meet the Danish Ambassador for the European Region of Gastronomy
“I could have gone to Copenhagen,” he says. “But my family’s here, and now my business is here, so I want to stay and fight. I want my restaurant to be up there with the best in the world.” Relying upon good-quality, carefully sourced ingredients, the chef’s food is classic and European, with a Nordic feel and a touch of the theatrical.
“Our menus tell a story and are theatrical as well as tasteful,” says Hallal. “It is a real experience – where we even change rooms at one point. One of the menus starts off with a dish using apples from my own garden at home, and we have to be careful changing anything as when you are Michelin star, people come for the signature dishes that have been recommended.
We never change a whole menu at once. We will constantly tweak and change ingredients according to the suppliers and season, but the dishes are named by one description word only, which offers a lot of freedom in the kitchen. Each dish is explained to the table each time it is served, so there is an element of surprise for the guests every time.”
If there’s but a bit of justice left in this world, the sometimes berated Michelin Guide will realize the error of its ways and 2019 will (finally) see the birth of Denmark’s next two star restaurant, Frederikshøj.
Meet the Danish Ambassador for the European Region of Gastronomy, written by Tor Kjolberg