Inside Relae in Copenhagen: Damien Neylon

On his third and final stop, Damien takes us inside the minimalist Relae with former Noma souschef Christian Puglisi.

Going from an Italian summer to a Nordic version was a bit of a shock to the system with roughly a 20C drop in temperature!

In Copenhagen, cycling is the most common method of transport so I decided to do as the locals do and ride around town, soaking up a city of two million that boasts fifteen Michelin starred restaurants.

I was fortunate enough to get a booking at Noma, and it has to be one of the best dining experiences I’ve ever had. From the moment I stepped inside the restaurant, I have never felt so welcome! The whole team meets you at the door and are with you until you leave. Incredible service – it was the whole experience.

The next day I started at Relae and worked mostly on the cold station preparing celtuce (a form of lettuce), raw venison, and raw pea dishes.  Relae is one of the most progressive restaurants I have been to. What appears to be simple food is actually incredibly intelligent and intricate, all served without any pretension in a pared-back atmosphere. It was a thrill to be able to take plates to tables myself and explain the dishes.

When setting out on this scholarship I really didn’t know what to expect, but during my time away I was really taken aback at how kind and forthcoming everyone was. A lot of people were really excited and interested in Australia, and Brae too, so it was great to be able to share my own story with them.

It was so valuable to see these countries for myself and to be exposed to different kitchen cultures, ideas, and techniques. I learned so much and can’t wait to implement some of those ideas back home.

Thank you to all of the kitchen staff at Nahm, Osteria Francescana and Relae. It was a life changing experience.

Damien is now back in his home kitchen in Brae. Stay tuned for news of his year-long mentorship. Applications for the 2016 scholarship will open during Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 4 – 13 Mach 2016. It’s open to any area of hospitality. More info