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Next Wave Nordic Rock Star

Copenhagen Chef Matthew Orlando

Chef Matthew Orlando; courtesy of Amass

Food pilgrims have a new reason to visit Copenhagen, land of superstar René Redzepi’s Noma and Christian Puglisi’s Relæ. After more than two years as head chef at Noma, Matthew Orlando, a San Diego native, will debut Amass in a former shipyard in the city’s Refshaleøen district in July. His menu, like his mentor’s, will focus on hyper-local sourcing, with produce coming from a 500-square-foot garden adjacent to the dining room, as well as from farmers in the area. Orlando is thrilled to continue working with many of the farmers and purveyors he developed relationships with at Noma. His challenge will be defining how his cuisine differs from that of his former boss: “When you work at Noma, you basically shut out the rest of the world,” he says. “You really think like Noma, and you put yourself inside of René’s head. I’ve had to put a lot of ideas away because I knew they’d never work at Noma, but now they are starting to resurface. My food’s going to be a lot more spontaneous.”

Orlando is planning to offer a loose, daily-changing, eight-to-10 course tasting menu, punctuated by small off-menu snacks served between courses. He’ll play with diners’ expectations, for example, by serving a cod fillet—traditionally considered an entrée ingredient—as a smaller lead-in to a more substantial dish focused on the cod head, “a far superior piece of meat,” he says.

“I love light food and really fresh flavors, but I also do like flavors that are a little bit more in your face,” Orlando says. “When you take a bite, you really know, ‘Wow. That is exactly what I’m eating right now.’ I think sometimes nowadays food gets a bit too intellectual and makes people think about it a bit too much. I want the food to be more straightforward and approachable, but to still test people a little bit.” amassrestaurant.com

Related: Copenhagen Restaurants
Manifesto for a New Nordic Cuisine

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