Copenhagen expat shortlisted for prestigious award for innovative production of strange booze – The Post

Copenhagen expat shortlisted for prestigious award for innovative production of strange booze

At Empirical Spirits, the capital-based American chef Lars Williams captures the most unlikely flavours to infuse into beverages – and his methods are helping to empower Zimbabwean communities

Lars Williams in action (all photos: Empirical Spirits Facebook page)
June 20th, 2019 11:04 am| by Ben Hamilton

An American chef based in Copenhagen has made the 10-person shortlist for the prestigious Basque Culinary World Prize.

The award is annually bestowed to an individual whose trailblazing has had an impact ‘beyond the kitchen’.

And Lars Williams, the former head of the Nordic Food Lab, is commended by the prize organisers for his “novel approach to innovation [in] transposing culinary concepts to the world of distilled spirits … through the eyes of a chef”.

Tours are available around the Empirical Spirits workshop Thursday to Sunday


Infusing chicken skin into booze
Williams now works for the innovative company Empirical Spirits, which captures flavours from unlikely sources – such as chicken skin and fir trees – to create beverages through cutting-edge distillation and fermentation techniques.

The prize organisers also drew attention to the chef’s work in Zimbabwe, where he is “empowering marginalised communities to explore the potential of their untapped culinary resources ranging from wild fruits to termites” in collaboration with Future of Hope founder Chido Govera.

The pair are helping to “transform them into unique food products capable of generating economic value, fostering community identity and captivating global markets”.

Lars out in Zimbabwe


Help from within?
The candidates have generally demonstrated how “gastronomy could become a transformational force in areas such as technology, education, environment, health, food production or on social or economic development”.

The prize is organised and promoted by the the Euskadi-Basque Country Strategy and the Basque Culinary Center under the auspices of the Basque Government.

This is the fourth edition of the prize, and in total 230 nominations were received from 42 countries – a total field of 150 chefs, as many received multiple nods.

Danish chef and food writer Trine Hahnemann is on the jury who will select the winner of a 100,000-euro prize to devote to a cause that expresses the ethos of the prize: transforming society through gastronomy.