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An epic food journey in the Arctic circle

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Chef Poul Andrias Ziska of Koks restaurant honed his craft in the harsh North Atlantic but has now reimagined his signature locavore cooking for a Greenlandic terroir.

Fabled for its off-the-beaten track location, gourmet restaurant Koks is now even harder to reach. It has uprooted from the Faroe Islands, and until 2023, moved to a small village in western Greenland that’s located more than 200km inside the Arctic Circle.

Here, rugged nature serves up a wild harvest of seafood and game, from prawns and halibut to reindeer and muskox (a horned and shaggy-haired bovine that resembles a bison).

Faroese chef Poul Andrias Ziska honed his craft in the harsh North Atlantic but has now reimagined his signature locavore cooking for a Greenlandic terroir.

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Crispy shrimp heads with beady eyes and antennae; delicately smoked salmon sandwiched between bubbly fish-skin crackers; and tender morsels of scarlet-red ptarmigan (a bird found in mountainous northern climes) breast skewered with a white-feathered wing bone are among the dishes awaiting curious diners who seek out a table at the only Michelin-starred restaurant in the Arctic.

Greenland, like the Faroe Islands, is an autonomous Danish territory. Eighty percent of its enormous landmass is covered by a vast ice sheet and glaciers, while its tiny 56,000 population mostly lives along the coast.

“We have been thinking a lot about doing something in Greenland, because I’ve always found it very fascinating,” said Ziska, who had long hoped to host an event or pop-up in the country together with other regional chefs. Meanwhile, a catalogue of problems with the premises back home was a tipping point that motivated him to relocate. “[Greenland is] similar, but then again so very different to where we come from.”

Chef Poul Andrias Ziska has reimagined his signature locavore cooking for a Greenlandic terroir (Credit: Adrienne Murray Nielsen)

“Still today, mostly everyone is hunting and fishing. The closeness people have to their environment is a beautiful thing,” said the 32-year-old, who focuses on sustainably and locally sourced food. “That resonates very well with the philosophy that we have at our restaurant.”

Ziska had only visited Greenland twice before, but it left a lasting impression. “We ate with a family that had hunted all of the food themselves,” he recalled. “We had wild-caught trout and roe, and reindeer and muskox. It was amazing!”

“Having that experience I understood that, ‘okay, if we have access to these raw materials, it’s without a doubt possible to make something of a very high standard in Greenland’.”

Inspired by the palette of unique ingredients, he filled up two empty suitcases with local produce and headed home to get to work conjuring up new dishes in his test kitchen.

Getting to Kok’s Greenlandic reincarnation is an odyssey in itself. There are no roads. From the closest town, Ilulissat, visitors travel an hour by boat. It’s an utterly breath-taking voyage, zigzagging through a maze of towering blue-white icebergs.

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