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Life Style

“More salt and less yeast”—how Claus Meyer has changed eating habits in Denmark

Meyer is a vocal proponent of eating more local produce and less microwaved convenience food. He believes people need to rediscover an appreciation for the taste of freshly baked bread and use only fresh, seasonal produce. It is with these seemingly simple, but specific, ideas that Claus Meyer has changed Denmark’s eating habits. But what motivated him to tackle the issue of eating habits in this way?

“When I was 14, I was one of the three fattest children in Denmark,” the Danish culinary entrepreneur and former TV chef told the THINK NEXT by Franke summit. His mother went out to work and, as a result, his diet was almost entirely unhealthy. So where did someone who was once one of the three fattest children in Denmark get the idea that he wanted to change Danish eating habits?
After graduating, Meyer spent a year in France as an au pair, where, for the first time, he encountered fresh, seasonal and balanced regional cuisine, and it immediately filled him with enthusiasm. With the idea in mind of introducing French eating habits to Denmark, Claus Meyer opened his first restaurant back in his homeland, studying at the Copenhagen Business School at the same time.

NOMA and a Food Manifesto

A key milestone in Meyer’s project was the opening of Noma in Copenhagen in 2003. It has the honor of having been named the world’s best restaurant four times. In 2004, at Meyer’s initiative, twelve celebrity chefs from various Scandinavian countries published a Food Manifesto. The aim of the manifesto was to start cooperating with local farmers, and to establish agricultural traditions and sustainable and environmentally friendly conditions for production, with a view to giving Scandinavian cuisine its own unique and distinctive identity. It was a major step toward changing Scandinavian eating habits for the better.

To put the issue at the top of consumers’ minds, a pop-up store selling fresh bread was opened at a Danish festival. It reintroduced the Danes to fresh, home-baked bread. The whole concept was promoted with the slogan “More salt and less yeast.”

Social integration projects

But a new food culture knows no bounds. Meyer founded the nonprofit organization Melting Pot Foundation with the aim of improving quality of life for vulnerable communities. Meyer and the organization worked closely with the Danish prison service to develop a reentry program. As part of the program, he taught cookery to inmates in prison.
He launched his first project outside Denmark with the Melting Pot Foundation in La Paz (Bolivia), where he opened the restaurant Gustu four years ago, which is one of the 17 best restaurants in Latin America. There, he has taken on the task of teaching young Bolivians with poor training opportunities how to cook and bake. Meyer has also opened a cookery school, bakery, and a community restaurant in Brownsville, Brooklyn.

In his roles as Associate Professor at the Department of Food Science at the University of Copenhagen, and Adjunct Professor at the Institute for Corporate Social Responsibility at the Copenhagen Business School, Claus Meyer is passing his extensive knowledge of the culinary arts on to the next generation.

As his career illustrates, Claus Meyer is not short of ideas for improving eating habits. We cannot wait to see what he will come up with in the future to get world eating habits on the right track.


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