Paul Cunningham (chef)
Early life and training
Cunningham was born and grew up in rural Essex. He first worked as a cook in a country pub in Widdington and then in various restaurants and country house hotels, including Danesfield House and Lords of the Manor, before moving to Denmark in 1994.
In Denmark Cunningham started as fish cook and became head chef at Søllerød Kro, which during his time there acquired one of the first Michelin stars awarded in the country, then at Formel B, where he trained Mads Refslund, and at Coquus and Plaza before becoming co-owner and chef at The Paul, located in Glassalen, the glass pavilion at Tivoli in Copenhagen. The park had had a reputation for poor food; at The Paul, Cunningham became a celebrity chef, cooking for Queen Margrethe, Helena Christensen, and for Bill Clinton, Paris Hilton and Metallica when they visited Denmark. The restaurant was awarded a Michelin star in 2003, nine months after opening.
After the restaurant suffered from the financial crisis and after being hospitalised in spring 2011 with a stress-related condition and refused reduced hours by Tivoli management, Cunningham closed The Paul late that year. He then in 2012 succeeded Allan Poulsen as chef at Henne Kirkeby Kro, an eighteenth-century inn (kro) in Henne Kirkeby, a village in Varde Municipality. Henne Kirkeby Kro was awarded its first Michelin star in 2016 and a second in 2017.
At previous restaurants, Cunningham's cooking used precision techniques such as molecular cuisine; at Henne Kirkeby Kro he announced that he would make use of the restaurant's kitchen garden—the largest in Denmark—and access to the coast and fresh fish to perform "intuitive", jazz-inspired cooking. He has said that his cooking is not Nordic cuisine as such: that he is "an incorrigible Francophile" and "[has] travelled too much to say no to Pakistani mangoes or galangal". He decides everything about the menu, which he has called "a gastronome's Russian roulette"; it "may consist of anything from pig ears with oyster aioli to duck decorated with marigolds" and emphasises the fresh ingredients.
Cunningham lives in Korsør with his wife, Lene, and children, currently spending half the week there because of the distance from Henne Kirkeby, and is active as a photographer. He says that he cannot work without music.
- Lars Dahlager (31 July 2012). "Feteret michelinkok ramte bunden og blev genfødt ved Vesterhavet". Politiken (in Danish).
- "Engelsk stjernekok med danske ambitioner og fransk anerkendelse" (in Danish). DR. 27 February 2016.
- Ivan Brincat (22 February 2017). "Paul Cunningham clinches second Michelin star: 'I did not see it coming'". Food and Wine Gazette.
- Amanda Afiya (24 February 2017). "'I couldn't stand up': British chef Paul Cunningham on winning two Michelin stars". The Caterer.
- Søren Frank (9 October 2016). "Dansk stjernekok indtager New York". Berlingske (in Danish). Refslund followed him when he left Formel B, becoming his assistant at The Paul before leaving for Noma.
- Scott Vogel (10 August 2008). "Why Are the Danes So Happy? It's the Simple Things". Washington Post.
- Sarah Hambro (22 February 2017) [20 November 2012]. "Den glade kokken". Dagens Næringsliv (in Norwegian).
- Tine Faltin (9 May 2015). "Dansk glassfibermilliardær har utviklet matreisemål med michelinkokken som sa nei til å starte Noma". Dagbladet (in Norwegian).
- Honest Cooking (30 September 2011). "Nordic Chefs Head for the Forest". Huffington Post (blog).
- "Masterchef Paul Cunningham goes west..." Visit Denmark. 31 May 2012.
- "Chefkok på Henne Kirkeby Kro: Havde ikke forudset stjerne". Fyens.dk (in Danish). 22 February 2017.
- Christian Sejer Rasmussen (26 February 2015). "Michelin-stjerner: De her danske restauranter blev snydt" (in Danish). TV 2.