Deligreco: The Greek restaurant in Copenhagen for discerning foodies - The top preferences of the Danes

Copenhagen

When Thodoris Tsigas was studying mechanical engineering at the Polytechnic University, it might not have crossed his mind that his love for cooking and haute gastronomy from those years would lead him to Denmark.

A trip to Copenhagen, the city that has turned from a Viking fishing village into a powerful financial centre and a culinary metropolis, was enough to convince him that there he could lay the foundations to build a new life doing what he loves.

This is how the journey of Thodoris Tsigas began a decade ago. He has managed to put Deligreco, the restaurant he created with love and passion, on the gastronomic map of Copenhagen, the fairytale capital of Denmark that has become a destination for discerning foodies.

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"I came here about ten years ago. I had visited the town earlier to see a friend, liked it and decided to stay here too. I'm a mechanical engineer, but I've always loved gastronomy. In my free time, I went to restaurants and worked. So I decided to come here and do what I like, and it has to do with cooking and wine," explained Thodoris Tsigas, speaking to the radio station of AMNA "Agency 104.9 FM".

"We originally started as a Greek delicatessen, and over the years, we have developed into a restaurant with a huge wine collection - we have the largest collection of Greek wines in northern Europe, and we also import very high-quality Greek ingredients. We don't work with touristic Greek products, nor is our menu a classic tourist menu," noted Mr. Tsigas.

DeligrecoIn Deligreco's kitchen, the well-known chef Martin Steininger, who has worked in the past with famous restaurants such as Noma, mixes elements of Greek and Nordic cuisine, creating dishes to satisfy even the most demanding palate.

"Generally, we cook what we want and use some Greek products and some Greek recipes, but without being the classic Greek dishes you find everywhere. We've mixed it a bit with the Nordics," points out Mr Tsigas, who had to invest a lot of time and a lot of effort to convince the Danes that Greek cuisine is on a path of development and can make its own contribution to the global culinary map.

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An effort was also needed to shake off the ... retsina of bad bulk retsina, with which many tourists who have visited Greece have occasionally combined some Greek meal.

"Greek wine is treated like a retsina, but after ten years of being here, we have a stable audience who know that we have quality Greek wine, which they will get at an extremely good price. But even today, you find wines of dubious quality in Copenhagen, which may satisfy the desire of the Danes or the Scandinavians in general for cheap Greek wine, but they do not add any extra value to the 'Greece' product, said Mr Tsigas, whose restaurant has over of 250 labels from the Greek vineyard.

As for which wines suit the Dane's palette, the owner of Deligreco was clear: "The Danes drink heavy wines: from Bordeaux or Burgundy but also the Barolo of the Italians. They love very tannic wines, such as Cabernet Sauvignon. From ours, they really like the Nemea region, while they also really like Xinomavro and Assyrtiko."

Deligreco's customers are around 35-60 years old and mostly love Greece very much.

"We have quite a few regular customers, and since our food is priced very low by Copenhagen standards, we try to keep it at that level so that they come more often since the Danes come out once a fortnight or once a month," pointed out Mr Tsigas.

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As for their preferences?

"The Danes very much prefer a plate of sardines as pastes and slow-cooked lamb on top of aubergine puree," said the owner of Deligreco, pointing out that apart from high-quality feta cheese, which they have a particular weakness for, they also like - among other things - Tinos kariki, Zakynthos oil cake etc.

According to tourist guides, among the top 10 reasons to visit Copenhagen is its haute cuisine, with its many "miscellaneous" and not-so-high-quality restaurants that attract foodies from Worldwide.

copenhagen DeligrecoBut how to explain what many describe as a "Nordic miracle" in the field of gastronomy?

According to Mr Tsigas, the answer lies in the Nordic Food Manifesto.

"The truth is that Copenhagen is probably the hottest place in gastronomy. All the Scandinavians have invested a lot in the Nordics, which has led to a very large amount of tourism from foodies.

"This 'Nordic miracle' does not rely on 5-10 chefs and restaurateurs, but behind it, there are state institutes that help with everything needed. We are essentially talking about a type of tourism.

"They decided they wanted to have culinary tourists, so they thought a culinary culture was needed. So, 10-15 years ago, they made a manifesto called the Nordic Food Manifesto; they invited 10-20 chefs who were promising at the time; they started building restaurants, and that's how the 'Nordic phenomenon' was created.

"The Nordic Food Manifesto does not say anything more than what we say. It says, e.g. that we should eat the food of our country. We have known this for 200 years. They just promote it very well, have marketing and have what doesn't exist in Greece 'all together.

"In other words, there is a specific plan and support," concluded Mr Tsigas, who, with his insistence on quality raw materials and good Greek wine, has managed to win the (culinary) vote of the Danes.

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