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Noma Alum Christian Puglisi Expands His Copenhagen Empire

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He's launching a culinary school and a farm

Relae/Facebook

Danish chef Christian Puglisi is best known for Relae, his Michelin-starred flagship restaurant in Copenhagen that opened in 2010. The inventive and yet rustic style of Relae pushes the boundaries on New Nordic cuisine even while adhering to classic techniques. In a city praised for its quality dining, Puglisi, a Dane of Sicilian-Norwegian heritage who is an alumnus of René Redzepi's Noma, stands out.

He's since expanded his empire. In 2011, he opened Manfreds, a vegetable-centric restaurant and wine bar in Copenhagen's fashionable Norrebro neighborhood. A pizzeria and bakery called Baest soon followed in 2014, the same year the chef wrote a well-received cookbook.

In 2015 and 2016 the World's 50 Best Restaurants organization gave Relae its sustainable restaurant award. The honor recognizes restaurants that consciously source local, ethically-grown ingredients. Restaurants in this category must also score above a certain percentage in categories like "treating people fairly," "waste management," and "responsible marketing."

This year the chef embarks upon a new project. With an eye on sustainability, Puglisi recently acquired an organic farm about 40 minutes from Copenhagen. It will become a space for chefs and producers to gather and innovate alongside local farmers, Modern Farmer reports.

"I am very excited about this project, it is really having a great impact on what we are cooking already," Puglisi told Eater in an email. He has already started using produce from the farm in his restaurants and has eight Jersey cows he will use to make raw milk cheese for Baest.

Beats the beach! Sunday fun-farm day. #farmofideas #abbetved #organic

A photo posted by Christian Francesco Puglisi (@chrifrapug) on

Puglisi calls this project the "Farm of Ideas," and it spans about 27 acres. There are a few dilapidated buildings on the land that will be adapted for various purposes. One will provide space for visiting chefs and producers to meet with farmers, share ideas, and explore new techniques. Another building will serve as a culinary school for professional chefs; these students will have full access to the Farm of Ideas. A third building will be able to accommodate events, and perhaps a cafe and bakery for visitors.

Puglisi’s goal, he told Modern Farmer, is to create a place where people from all over the world can convene to share ideas and gain inspiration while tapping into local resources.

If this ethos sounds familiar it's because he’s not alone in the push for farm connections, culinary connectivity, and shared inspiration. Puglisi's mentor, chef René Redzepi of Noma, has similar plans to close his top-rated restaurant and reopen it as an urban farm centered around a restaurant. Redzepi also hosts an (almost) annual symposium dedicated to furthering thought in the culinary space and pushing the world of food into the future.

As it evolves, the Farm of Ideas will continue to be produce ingredients for Puglisi's restaurants. He is also hoping to secure funding from a Danish philanthropic organization that will go towards overhauling the farm's buildings and ensure a smooth transition between vacant land and a working and learning farm and educational facility. An opening date has not been set but the chef hopes to be fully operational by next year.

Chef Christian Puglisi’s Ambitious New Project is a "Farm of Ideas" [Modern Farmer]
Shocker: René Redzepi Will Shutter Noma, Plans to Reopen It With an Urban Farm [E]

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