Nordic touch cools heat of Pelikan

Pelikan, one of the hottest places in town, recently invited star chef Nicolai Ellitsgaard to present a four-day pop up with a special menu.
courtesy of Nicolai Ellitsgaard

Danish chef Nicolai Ellitsgaard was in town to present a special menu.

Pelikan, one of the hottest places in town, recently invited star chef Nicolai Ellitsgaard to present a four-day pop up with a special menu combining the best of China’s ingredients and the chef’s awesome techniques from the Nordic roots.

Ellitsgaard, former head chef of Norwegian restaurant M?ltid in Kristiansand, Southern Norway (voted in Scandinavia’s best 25 restaurants and in Norway’s top 3), was excited to be here, working again with Pelikan’s head chef Kasper Elmholdt Pedersen, who used to be Ellitsgaard’s apprentice at Henne Kirkeby Kro in Denmark years ago.

The special menu was created between two chefs and friends, who managed to bring the local ingredients and Nordic techniques and creativity together. 

“My way of cooking is very Nordic because I want the products to speak for themselves, and not to be “covered” with 1,000 different spices,” Ellitsgaard said.

The Dane likes to present the unique and pure flavors which also made the restaurant M?ltid among the most renowned ones in the Nordic countries before its closing. 

“However, don’t get me wrong. I love to eat all kinds of food around the world and I do appreciate Chinese cuisine. The most important thing when I’m travelling is to discover the real culture of how people live and what they eat, how they eat and cook their meals,” he added.

The different cultures inspire the chef to integrate new elements into his Nordic cooking. For example, he had used local product “taro” instead of “potato” to make a traditional pancake to pair with “Smalahove” (saltet and cooked lamb head) during the pop up. Each creative course was presented with ingredients mixed in playful ways and a balance between flavors and textures.

“Normally back home I use a lot of fermenting and pickling,” Ellitsgaard said. “I love the sour, but to compensate for the sour, I use a lot of butter in my food. You can say I’m a bit trapped between the Nordic and the classic French style of cooking. By pickling and fermenting, dehydrate, salt and courd, I can use local ingredients all year round, of course, it requires a lot of planning and organization in the few months in which things are in season.

“For the pop up at Pelikan, we only used Chinese ingredients except for the dried oak, seaweed with truffle flavor and juniberries I brought from back home. Before I came to China we only had two to three dishes done and ready as we know they could work. The rest we found out when I went to the local market and decided the menu out of the availability. For example, the raw peanuts. I hadn’t even thought about using peanuts but when I tried it I was amazed by the tastes.”

Europe will soon see its first underwater restaurant in the south of Norway and Ellitsgaard will head the kitchen at ‘Under’.

“We are already in contact with different farmers in the nearby area to grow and farm special and delicious ingredients for the restaurant,” Ellitsgaard said. “There is abundant forest area on the coastline so it’s interesting to see what the local hunters can get and what we can use for cooking from there as well. Local harvests of mushroom, wild berries and wild herbs are also part of our plan to get the best ingredients locally.

“People will be blown away to eat at a 5-meter-deep underwater space with a big panoramic acrylic window bringing the marine life into spotlight. I have a clear vision where we want to go and what our goal and dream is. We are a small group of people working together on this project to find the best at every level.”

The restaurant opens in February 2019.

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