David Colcombe, Liquid’s consultant chef, visited Aarhus, the second largest city in Denmark, with international gastronomy network Délice. We asked David about the work of Délice – and his inspirational gastronomic experience.
Q: Chef, you have a key role representing Birmingham with the international Délice Network. Tell us about the organisation and why it matters to the city.
A: “Birmingham was one of the first members of Délice, which was launched in 2007 to champion diverse food cultures and celebrate gastronomic excellence. The city has now re-established its connection with this influential food organisation with the help and support of University College Birmingham.
“The Délice meeting in Aarhus provided a great platform to reintroduce Birmingham to the network’s members and update them on its exciting food journey.
“I hope to ensure that Birmingham moves forward through its outstanding local network of chefs, as I believe it’s important for the city to explore new initiatives and engage in the international arena. Délice has representation across five different continents, so hearing a variety of speakers over the four days of the meeting made me realise how far we can still go and where Birmingham needs to strive to be.”
Q: So, when 23 different food cities agree to meet, what happens?
A: “Most importantly, I was in Aarhus for Délice’s annual general meeting. I was effectively representing the whole of Birmingham. It is a different role from working in a kitchen but the chef’s hat must come off sometimes.
“I gave a presentation on Birmingham’s cultural and gastronomical development, bringing the other cities right up-to-date on our food journey. For example, there are far more Michelin-starred restaurants here now – six if we include Solihull – than when the network started in 2007. And back then, no-one had really heard of street food.
Q: How did you find the food scene in Aarhus?
A: “Aarhus aren’t shouting from the rooftops, but they should be. We went to the most incredible food festival. I’m not sure if anything in Britain could match it. The scale, organisation and sustainability of the event was remarkable.
“Street food, something incredibly popular here in Birmingham, was even bigger in Denmark. Vendors in Aarhas are open all day, not just in the evenings and on weekends. Commuters pop out of their offices for street-style lunches. We haven’t quite reached that in Brum yet.”
Q: What was the most memorable aspect of your visit to Aarhus?
A: “I think appreciating how massive sustainability is. Eco-systems are incredibly important, too. In Aarhas, everybody cycles. They are all conscious of their health. For instance, we visited Det Grønne Museum where there was this incredible garden. They grew 93 different varieties of rhubarb.
“On our final day, a group of us picked produce from this garden before doing our washing and prepping in a post-World War II style-kitchen, which made me valuable for the day. Our homemade soup was the start of a delicious self-made meal.
“Also, top Michelin-starred chefs were challenged to view pieces of art from a local museum and use the tastes, flavours and smells associated with the works to create some rather unique dishes. The whole experience was enlightening.
“This inspirational visit to Aarhus proves how important it is for Birmingham to be part of Délice – even now in its tenth anniversary year – as it allows chefs to network with experts who have got some great ideas.”