Encuentro de los mares



Nicolai Ellitsgaard, standard-bearer of algae and discarded fish on the coasts of Norway


The Norwegian chef at the underwater restaurant Under* (Lindesnes) recreated the enormous biological and gastronomic variety of Norway's sea at Meeting of the Seas 

5 metres below sea level in Norway - Under* is not just a restaurant, but also a part of its sea bed, because its structure has been designed for molluscs and algae to grow on it. Chef Nicolai Ellitsgaard is in charge of this project, a man "fascinated with algae", whose work is based on paying tribute to the huge variety of species on the coasts of Norway. “We don't just have salmon in Norway", said Ellitsgaard, and that is why a large portion of his offer is to showcase other species, including algae. 

“Algae are the star feature of our restaurant, and they are extremely healthy", the Norwegian explained, adding that he only uses Norwegian algae "to be as sustainable as possible". He produced some examples of the uses of algae on his menu in a showcook of a number of recipes, including desserts featuring algae in sponges or pastry, the pastry produced with seven layers of "Palmaria palma", a variety of seaweed which - the story goes - fed the Vikings during their trips around the ocean". Like we said, Norwegian algae. Viking algae.

But another important face of Ellitsgaard's work is the utilisation of produce that is discarded by fisheries, but could form part of another recipe. Nicolai, for example, works with certain species of white sea bream, "which is normally used only as food for other species", or with a crustacean known as rugose squat lobster or plated lobster, "usually discarded in catches of langostino prawns". In this regard, the chef homed in on the need to educate and raise awareness among all the parties concerned, because initially he too had experienced "huge problems for fishermen to bring me these species because it wasn't profitable to fish for them". The secret is to "pay them well". Getting good produce with the collaboration of local fishing communities, to open up the market for them as well. And obtaining this top-quality product is essential for Ellitsgaard, because the main thing is to "showcase products, not conceal them".