The Koch who came home

Acclaimed chef de cuisine (and MasterChef judge) Jesper Koch was born and raised in South Jutland. He cannot recall ever not being passionate about or interested in food. Because good produce, ingredients, the craft of cookery and its traditions have always been part of his everyday life.

Jesper’s grandmother was a phenomenal cook. In her own cosy kitchen, she cooked the fish Jesper caught in Genner Bay. When the first fresh vegetables of summer arrived, she and Jesper would make Snysk, which, in keeping with tradition, is served with smoked pork. Smoky flavour is also an element of Jesper’s favourite dish Skrædderduels, as well as many other regional South Jutland dishes. When the region was ceded to Prussia after the Second Schleswig War in 1864, German butchers settled here bringing with them proud sausage-making and smoked-food traditions. This rubbed off on the local cuisine. This was also the era when the renowned pastry buffet of South Jutland emerged, and Jesper’s grandmother truly mastered the art of baking, too. Nuts and berries from former fringe areas, once grazed by medieval village cattle, as well as the fruits of the garden and orchard were transformed into sumptuous cakes, pastries and desserts in varieties only found in an authentic South Jutland pastry buffet.

In fact, there is no single right recipe in South Jutland: the only “right” recipe is one that a family has passed down from one generation to the next. This was also the case with Jesper’s family, and before he was even old enough to peer over a kitchen counter, their traditions were on their way to the next generation.

Rødbeder
Gryder

Syttende is Jesper Koch’s vision and dream of giving something in return to the region and cuisine which have helped shape him. After having worked for an impressive array of restaurants in Denmark and abroad, including a number of Michelin two-star and three-star restaurants, and after having founded restaurants such as Brdr. Koch, Kocherier and Det Glade Vanvid, this South Jutland chef has come home. To South Jutland. To Syttende. To something brand-new, inspired, age-old insight into the cookery craft. To a luxurious setting where gastronomy and hand-picked produce from every corner of the world are elevated to new heights. To a new restaurant that does not intend to follow modern trends – but to set them.

Jesper Koch had to go all the way to Stockholm to hand-pick Peter Rødsgaard as executive chef for Syttende’s kitchen. Because this was where Peter Rødsgaard had been part of The Grand Hotel’s gastronomical success – including two Michelin restaurants and a bakery – for several years before Syttende ever opened. Peter Rødsgaard’s resume also includes Mirazur (Nice) – one of the best restaurants in the world – as well as Svinkløv Badehotel (Denmark) and, of course, several of Jesper Koch’s restaurants in Aarhus. This was also where the two chefs met more than ten years ago and immediately realised how teaming up could yield truly unique results.

Whenever the two chefs get together in Syttende’s kitchen, a unique symbiosis merges tradition with innovation in which produce and ingredients play the starring roles. Both chefs have the same sky-high ambitions and are utterly incapable of compromising on quality or flavour. Together, they can obsess for hours about a carrot or on trying to decide on which of eight different strawberry varieties to choose, just like every single ingredient and supplier is carefully hand-picked by these two chefs for Syttende.

Peter Rødsgaard’s is uniquely passionate about vegetables and modern vegetarian cuisine which – when combined with Jesper Koch’s fondness for both tradition and infusing classic cuisine with innovation – takes Syttende’s gastronomy to new heights. Individually they are accomplished chefs in their own right, but together Jesper Koch and Peter Rødsgaard are brilliant.