There was an unplanned meeting of the international black fingernail club on that last night of the Relais & Chateaux rendezvous in Copenhagen. The gathering was led by Paris-based Canadian Yv Corbeil, centre. He’s ‘Mr AI’, also known as MD and Chief Creative Officer of NIJI, and a few hours earlier he had demonstrated how artificial intelligence could dig into someone’s online presence and produce a minutely-bespoke three-course menu. The black-nail brothers were boosted by a Hanseatic referee, Lars Seifert, left in photo, whose day job is Chief Communications & Sustainability Officer, Relais & Chateaux.
This was all at Relais & Chateaux’ gala, billed as DISCOPENHAGEN, which turned out to include a couple of marathons. First, arrive to find all 600 party-goers were to be photographed in a nonstop directed file-past with Relais’ indefatigable President, Laurent Gardinier, who must have been exhausted after three days’ nonstop public presiding. Then the oh-so-stylish crowd, a majority of the men in traditional black tie and others ranging from Abba pyjamas to yellow dishmop wigs atop Hawaiian bawdy, went on to endless Moët and chitter-chatter.
We were in a unique ambience, Copenhagen’s former railway repair warehouse, Lokomotivvaerkstedet, converted into an event space large enough to host cocktails in an area curtained off from the dining area and substantial ‘back of house’. It was easily spacious, all of it, to show off some spectacular sequinned and shiny frocks, and even a fuchsia ‘60s miniskirt.
The next marathon was to be skilled service paired with memorable mod-Danish haute cuisine. Circular tables for 12, stretching, it seemed, to eternity, presented a sea of midnight linens, with overhead lighting pinpointing centrepiece glass balls piled one above the other. An army of young females, mostly blonde and all clad in black, slim size, had been schooled with military precision. They were to descend on tables in pairs, with no delay. All dishes were plain white.
Silver menus explained what would follow, from four Relais & Chateaux chefs, all in Denmark. Simon Juel from Falsled Kro Hotel, Millinge, opened, with an artistic painting of a Rousseau hedge of garden veggies and wispy greenery above a blanquette sauce, the whole dotted with Sturia caviar. This was paired with Dom Pérignon 2013. Next came a complementay edible painting from the Chef-Patron of Nyborg’s Restaurant Lieffroy, Patrick Lieffroy. He paired a sizeable bit of turbot with a superb stuffed morrel, both swimming in a bakskuld sauce – thin white salted fish sauce, with blobs of translucent dayglo green – further enlightened by skeleton-bits of white and red cabbage (think of cabbage leaves that have had flesh between the veins spirited away). To go with this, servers poured glasses of Hermitage Blanc Chante Alouette 2020.
The third dish was immediately different. Mark Lundgaard, of Kong Hand Kaelder restaurant, Copenhagen, had amazingly produced individual gamemtourte with mystique sauce – game pies in a semi-sweet red sauce. These obviously needed a strong wine, namely Hermitage Rouge Monier de La Sizeranne 2018. Dessert was another differentiation. Jeppe Foldager, from Dragsholm Slot, an 800-year old castle on the Odsherred Peninsula, simply presented apple, quince and medlar from Dragsholm Slot with fresh cheese from Søtolte farm dairy and silver fir cones (pairing was Hennessy XO).
Oh the care that went into the whole thing, the entire evening. After coffees – Nespresso Nepal Lamjung and Galapagos, with Glenmorangie 18 years old & Ardbeg 10 years old – the curtains were pulled back to reveal a lighter blue ambience, music and dancing, four hours of it and the bubbles continued. Party-poopers, recognisable by their more-alert faces when daylight dawned, found plenty of coaches and no wait. Brilliance is in the details.