Although the 500 delegates to the 2023 Relais & Chateaux meeting were staying at VILLA COPENHAGEN – actually a Preferred hotel – pleniary sessions were held at Oksnehallen, only 500 metres away but a tricky walk because of major roadworks and a continuous onslaught of bicycles – apparently, according to former-Hyatt hotelier and author of Happy as a Dane Malene Reydahl, there are five times as many working bikes as cars in Denmark. Anyway, Oksnehallen is really spacious, with excellent acoustics. A Norwegian hotelier in her version of a dirndl sang most beautifully and the Danish Minister for Culture, Sports and Tourism, Jakob Engel-Schmidt, gave an intelligent and warm welcome, before handing the floor to Relais President Laurent Gardinier.
The most relevant session, What can we learn from the worldwide success of Danish Food Revolution, included three deeply worthwhile speakers, Mauro Colagreco, NOMA Co-Founder Claus Meyer, and Italian food pundit Andrea Petrini. Listening to Claus Meyer, indeed, was one of highlights of the entire year. Meyer’s a chef, author, television personality, catalyst for social and culinary change, businessman and philanthropist – he operates cooking schools for members of economically challenged communities in New York as well as Bolivia. NOMA was not anticipated as a restaurant but as a food lab, he said. Perhaps it would be seen as a success in, say, 150 years, but in fact it only took one year, and the ten-point Nordic Cuisine Manifesto, signed by a group of male chefs has been, and continues to be, seriously influential. Looking ahead, Meyer’s convinced that Nordic cuisine has not finished with plant-based but, interestingly, he thinks there could be restaurants with different price points, attracting different incomes.
Afternoon sessions were back at the hotel. Having had a fill of food Girlahead chose a workshop on how to make a hotel work better. It was extremely well-presented, with good, and appropriate, images. The summary message to hoteliers was work out who you are, choose your guests, build a strong team, step into guests’ shoes, and communicate.