Copenhagen's Bæst offers diners a truly hands-on experience.
Such is the rock-star reputation of Copenhagen chef Christian Puglisi that this year's hottest opening in the capital of new Nordic cooking is a pizzeria. Puglisi called his new restaurant Bæst, which means beast in Danish, because he wanted "everything to be a little bit animal", with grilled meats and pizza to eat with your hands. Fire from a Neopolitan pizza oven and a grill is the binding element, he says.
After focusing on vegetables at his Michelin-starred Relæ and its casual sibling Manfreds, Sicilian-born Puglisi is relishing the contrast and the chance to explore his roots. But this is no derivative Italian. One of the first Noma alumni to set forth, Puglisi determinedly does his own thing. He's spent nearly two years perfecting a mozzarella produced from local biodynamic, hay-fed Jersey milk. The pizza dough is a blend of Danish and Piedmontese flour, and the salami, 'nduja and other charcuterie are made in-house from Denmark's best organic pork. "We make not what is authentic but what is the best," Puglisi says of his philosophy. "Bæst's not an Italian restaurant but it's something that is respectful towards the traditions and the gastronomy."
The 70-seat restaurant, whose American head chef Kristopher Schram came from Manfreds, has an adjacent bakery, Mirabelle, selling Roman-style pizza slices and what Puglisi hopes are the city's best croissants. In conceiving Bæst, Puglisi and Schram wanted to create the place they dreamed of going on their nights off - though it's unlikely they'll have many of them in the near future.
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