28.11.2016 14:44 o'clock
Friday 25 November 2016 10.24 GMTFirst published on Friday 25 November 2016 01.18 GMT
It should have been a year of celebration for Copenhagen restaurant Geranium, which in February became the first Danish eatery to earn three Michelin stars. But the restaurant is facing pressing questions over hygiene after it was fined 20,000 kronor (£2,300) by the country’s food safety authority.
Geranium had been storing fresh shellfish, such as oysters, crayfish and scallops, in temperatures that were too warm for too long, the Danish food administration, Fødevarestyrelsen, wrote after an inspection.
Two walk-in coolers also had “black, green and white splotches growing on the underside of shelves and on packaged pickled garlic”, according to a report dated 29 September but picked up by Danish media only on Thursday.
The regulator awarded the Copenhagen restaurant – which charges 2,000 kronor (£230) for a meal without drinks – a “frowning smiley”, the lowest grade of its four-tier system.
“We regard it as serious that the company has over a long period of time kept shellfish at temperatures that were too high – and they knew they were too high,” Martin Birk Hansen, a spokesman for Fødevarestyrelsen, told the Ekstra Bladet newspaper.
“The company has had knowledge that it has not responded to, and that tells us that the company isn’t aware of the important temperature rules. The company first changed it when we asked them to. It should have happened immediately.”
Geranium chef Rasmus Kofoed told Danish news agency Ritzau: “I do not agree with what is written. I believe that it is greatly exaggerated, but I admit that there are some parts of the process where perhaps we have been a bit inattentive.”
The restaurant had been using a computerised system to monitor food temperatures, but fish and shellfish were always stored on ice regardless of the surrounding temperature, he added.
This year the Nordic edition of the Michelin Guide gave three stars to Geranium, but only two to Copenhagen’s celebrated Noma, which was named best restaurant in the world by Britain’s Restaurant magazine in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014.
Kofoed, who received one of international cooking’s most coveted prizes, the Bocuse d’Or in 2011, opened the restaurant in 2007, won his first Michelin star in 2012 and his second a year later.
His third star came as no surprise to food experts, who at the time spoke of Geranium’s consistently excellent standards. “Noma makes food into a plaything; its dishes are too all over the place to get three stars. They serve entertaining cuisine, but there is a little too much banter and jokes for Michelin,” the editor-in-chief of Gastro magazine, Jesper Uhrup Jensen, told DR public television.
Noma, too, faced criticism from the Danish food safety regulator in 2013, when it was accused of not taking adequate action after 63 customers fell ill when an employee went to work despite having the norovirus, which causes viral gastroenteritis.