It’s been quite a while since the last post, i know. Life in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic has changed so many times that I lost count. I’ve changed quite a bit. But, today is not about me, or my travels or my thoughts on travel during a pandemic.

Today’s Tallied Travel story does not take us halfway around the world, but a little bit closer to home, here in Copenhagen. Today’s about one of the most ambitious and dedicated people I’ve met so far, my cousin Claudiu Lutic.

Chef Claudiu Lutic in action. Photo source: Madalina Sirghie

I have such admiration for his perseverance in following his dream through many countries, and many kitchens. He’s always striving to be better, to do better in his profession as a chef. You might wonder why am I writing this article now.

Yesterday, the Michelin Guide for Nordics for 2021 was announced, and Kong Hans Kælder received 2 Michelin stars. Kong Hans Kælder was the first restaurant in Copenhagen to receive a Michelin star as early as 1983, and it is the first year the restaurant received 2 Michelin stars. Claudiu has been working at Kong Hans for the past four and a half years and is currently the restaurants’ Assistant Head Chef. From what I could find, Claudiu is also the first Romanian chef to have gotten 2 Michelin stars. This milestone deserves an extra celebration! I am so very proud of him and I wanted to share this with everyone!

I had the delightful and delicious opportunity to dine at Kong Hans back in 2018, when I received an invitation there as my wedding gift. How I would describe the Kong Hans experience? Amazing food, a perfect wine pairing and the staff working together seamlessly, as a well oiled machine. Yes, I am a good food loving engineer, so I won’t pass up the chance for an engineering comparison. I am a strong believer in the value of a good team. A great team of chefs, sommeliers, front of the house staff, an intimate and romantic setting, Mark Lundgaard’s take on the traditional French cuisine, and the top-notch ingredients, is what I believe sets Kong Hans Kælder apart.

Born 1 year apart, both Claudiu and I were the oldest of ten grandchildren, and for a while I thought that was about as much as we had in common. In terms of personality and hobbies – he was super relaxed, I was usually super opinionated. He loved video games, I got easily bored by them. We did however have those couple of weeks spent each summer at our grandmothers’ place with our brothers, sisters and cousins.

Though I am not a fan of labels, I think it was pretty clear early on who was going to be the family’s foodie 😁. Little did we know where his life’s journey will take him.

As time went by, and we got older, I realized we’re more alike than different. Though it is usually when you realize this that you start parting ways and only meeting up once a year for Christmas. We each had our path to follow, I moved to Cluj-Napoca, then to Copenhagen, and he moved to the United Kingdom. The more financially independent we became, the easier it was to meet up, either in London or in Copenhagen. We now had the appreciation of good food in common.

I’ve been lucky enough to dine at one of the first restaurants he worked at (Brasserie Blanc) with him, to see him in action at Pollen Street Social ( a one Michelin star restaurant in Mayfair’s district of London). I’m sure things were not always easy, days and nights ( in the kitchen) were often long and tiring. In face of all that he’s pushed through with determination and worked for the next goal he’s set for himself. It’s a story perfectly encompassing that hard work pays off, as cliche as this might sound.

I also had the good fortune to be part of his test audience while trying out dishes when he moved to Copenhagen. I was always impressed, while Claudiu always found something that could be changed or perfected.

It’s been a tough year and a half, with the pandemic taking its toll on the food service industry and restaurants in Copenhagen being more closed than open last year. But even so, the team at Kong Hans didn’t loose their drive and strived for that second Michelin star! Well done!

Claudiu, you’re an inspiration to me! Sky’s the limit, cuz! Follow that dream!

If you’d like to see many of the mouth-watering dishes Claudiu makes, and some behind the scenes from the kitchen follow him on Instagram.

Follow Claudiu on Instagram

Follow the team at Kong Hans Kælder on Instagram

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