Last Saturday after over sixty hungry guests and a busy night with our beloved Chef's Table. Unexpected vegetarians, vegans other unexplained requests that make us cooks extra happy whist dancing around in the heat of our kitchen – we finally turned off the Molteni, polished the last of the coppers and eventually received our little glass of wine (and maybe a beer or two) – the town square bell rang 2am.
Five hours later I stood in the somewhat 'Lilliput' airport of Roskilde with my son of 7. We were on our way to the island of Læsø in Alex's little ‘Lego-like' aeroplane. Alex looks like a real pilot with the biggest, most well kept, glazed handlebar moustache that I have seen since to this day. Through the silver grey rainclouds we soon saw the beautiful green woodland of Læsø.
Læsø Langoustine Festival is held on Østerby harbour every year at the beginning of August – and for the first time in 2004. Amongst other events they invite professional chefs over to battle for the prize of The Golden Langoustine Claw. We were four that we given the task of creating a course using the islands products. We scoured the beaches, forests and local farms – langoustine should of course play the leading roll. Most happy indeed was I in 2004 to bring home the 'Claw' after I presented a dish using the gargantuan langoustines, warmed with locally salted speck and raspberries from the mayor's very own back garden. The dish was after strewn with wild flower petals and herbs. A little soup of the beast's head was flavoured with tiny chanterelles – served in the handmade coffee cups of the islands salt-master, Poul from Læsø Salt Farm.
Now August 2006… 12 o'clock on a Sunday. We stood again on the harbour, in front of 300 wild langoustine lovers. Freshened by the light summer rain – locally shot rabbit and fresh langoustines were placed over warm coals. My plates were dressed with the fennel aioli and my green tomato & apple compote was raring to go – I glanced around to check on my sous-chef of the day (Christian my son) – only to see tears running down his cheeks. Not only had he cut the fennel finer that fine, his little finger had somehow come between his knife and the chopping board. The public gasped as we ran from the harbour in search of the nearest first-aid box. Exactly 3 minutes later we were ready to again climb the steps and return to the stage – tears dried and finger well plastered… it was like David Beckham returning to the field after an injury – the crowd went wild! Christian looked at the people…looked at his finger and slow raised his right hand – saluting & thanking HIS public.
Our grilled rabbit and langoustine with fennel and green tomato chutney was devoured by the jury. A few hours afterwards Christian and I were called up to receive again, The infamous Golden Langoustine Claw for 2006.
‘The sympathy vote of the public had no influence what-so-ever!'