Christian F. Puglisi

Christian F. Puglisi is the restauranteur and chef behind Copenhagen’s Relæ, one of the world’s most sustainable Michelin-starred restaurants. When he’s not entertaining friends at pizza restaurant BÆST, the El Bulli-trained, ex-Noma sous-chef runs Farm of Ideas, an organic farm that sustainably produces food for his restaurants while also delving into food research and chef education.

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Working With Nature

The major question in terms of sustainability is how to expand people’s understanding of produce. That’s the big challenge. People don’t understand where their food comes from. It’s part of the reason we decided to start Farm of Ideas. It’s asking the question, ‘What is the agricultural system we are in and what influence can we as chefs and restauranteurs have on it?’ For too long, cooking has been focused on availability, uniformity and perfection. Instead, our values need to focus on serving nature rather than trying to dominate it, which requires a holistic approach. One way we’re doing this is by growing more than 150 varieties of vegetables for our restaurants and sourcing products from our own animals. The challenge is that we’re never 100 percent in control, but we have to use our skills and our ideas to make the most out of it for the sake of the produce and the sake of the planet.

Farm of Ideas. Photography: Courtesy of P.A. Jørgensen

Benchmark Burgers And Sandwiches

Sustainability has become a buzzword just about everywhere, and that’s a good thing, but people have a hard time applying it to their day-to-day business. There are a few places in Copenhagen that do a great job, and one of those is Gasoline Grill. It’s famous for making amazing burgers and it’s also certified organic. The owner goes a very long way to forward the agenda of serving people good, well-sourced produce. The meat is ground on-site daily and it sells out every day. It’s undoubtedly the best burger in Copenhagen. There are six locations across the city, but it started at a gas station, hence the name. In the wintertime, Palaegade is a very nice place to be. It’s a little bit classy, a little bit modern and it serves delicious open-faced sandwiches.

Gasoline Grill. Photography: Courtesy of Gasoline Grill

Bringing Mexico To Copenhagen

The restaurant I visit the most is Sanchez by Rosio Sanchez. What stands out is that it brings flavours to the plate that you don’t really find anywhere else in Copenhagen. It’s special, it’s unique and you can’t beat it for Rosio’s inventive Mexican dishes. The combination of acidity and flavours from smoked chillies and fruit is something special.

Squash tacos at Sanchez. Photography: Courtesy of Sanchez

An Ambitious Bowl Of Noodles

Slurp Ramen Joint is an extremely ambitious ramen project. It’s simple in its outlook – create a good bowl of soup – but is ambitious in how it goes about it. The chefs are very focused on the quality of the product and make all of the noodles themselves. The kitchen essentially runs as a line in a fine dining restaurant, which is quite impressive for what it is.

Taking DIY To The Next Level

When I entertain, I want to be able to share food with friends, and there’s nothing quite like sharing the burrata at BÆST. Being my own restaurant I’m obviously biased, but it’s also my house. BÆST has a butchery and micro-dairy upstairs where we make all our charcuterie and raw-milk cheeses, something that is totally unique in Denmark. This means we’re able to produce and serve cheese on the same day that we get our milk delivery from Farm of Ideas

Tamago and lumpish roe at Tigermom. Photography: Courtesy of Hedda Rysstad

Asian Food Cooked With Care And Fine Produce

An exciting restaurant to check out is Tigermom. It opened in 2018 by Lisa Lov, a former sous chef at Relæ. The menu is an eclectic view on her Cambodian and New Zealand roots. It’s a modern mix of Asian flavours and personality. The food is amazing. It’s a set menu that’s changing all the time but one dish that really stood out for me was a scallop with XO butter: it was very, very nice. Lisa is extremely talented and that’s something we could tell very early in her career. Working at Relæ, she learned how to source the finest produce and champion the sustainable agenda, and this is something she brings to Tigermom. All praise to her. Ranees Thai Restaurant, which is right around the corner from my house, is a place I’ve been going to for years now.

Sustainable Seafood

If you want to eat where the locals eat, head to La Banchina for simple yet tasty fish fare by the water. This is usually where you’ll find me on a beautiful summer’s day. You go, you eat, you jump in the water for a swim. And it also has a sauna. It’s a really nice, simple place. The chef, a former apprentice of mine, makes no compromises and only sources fish that he can serve with a good conscience.

La Banchina. Photography: Courtesy of La Banchina

Fried Chicken And Beer (From Fine Dining Chefs)

Brought to you by the Amass team, Broaden and Build is a great place to go with a few friends to enjoy great beer and good food. It’s a brewery in an old warehouse with a taproom and delicious bar snacks. The food is simple, organic and ingredient driven. It’s food that’s very suited for drinking, like their famous fried chicken.  

Bakers’ Delights

When I’m on the road, the one thing I miss is sourdough from Mirabelle Bakery. It’s the bread we serve at all our restaurants, and if you eat at Mirabelle Restaurant you can see it being made at our in-house bakery. It’s a bit different to a normal bakery. Its main purpose is to make great organic bread. We’ve expanded with croissants and a few laminated doughs that I’m very proud of, but it’s a very simple and small selection. We keep the offering limited so that we have less waste and keep the quality high. For me, you need to do this if you’re trying to be a sustainable-minded bakery. There are a lot of incredibly talented bakers in Copenhagen, but one that I want to point out is Juno. It makes very nice pastries, and it’s important to mention that it’s certified organic. It’s struck this magic rhythm of being busy enough and hyped enough to provide a very fresh product, day-in-and-day-out.

Fried chicken at Broaden and Build. Photography: Courtesy of Broaden and Build

Drinking Wine, Naturally

If I have something to celebrate, I’ll most likely head to Ved Stranden 10, which is Copenhagen’s most high-profile wine bar. It’s refined and classy but still manages to feel casual. It’s a very good example of a wine bar. I love it. Manfreds, my restaurant and wine bar was, I dare to say, one of the first venues to really push the natural wine agenda in Copenhagen. Our approach to wine is very much in line with our approach to hospitality. It’s about simplicity and high quality. We choose wines of interesting character and profile that are brought out in an organic way: not too stuffy or snobby. It’s an approach to wine that has been emulated by many, and I think that’s a great compliment.

Exploring Vermouth

Last year we added Rudo to the Relæ community. It’s a vermouth-focused bar that we have great pleasure working on. We jumped on the vermouth train a few years ago at BÆST, but we wanted to create a space for it to grow. It’s a drink-focused venue, so the food is quite simple. There are things like house-made charcuterie, and we’ve just added a ‘Farm of Ideas’ slider using beef from the cows we have at the farm and mozzarella that we make and smoke ourselves. The most popular dish is the stracciatella and black truffle toast.

Selected Works: Relæ: A Book of Ideas (2014)

Guide last updated January 2020

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