“Tak for mad” means “Thank you for the meal” in Danish. My husband is half Danish, and my mother-in-law taught me this lovely phrase. How fitting that for our first date, my husband took me to see the Oscar winning Danish movie, Babette’s Feast based on Isak Dinesen’s book. It’s an endearing film about Babette, a mysterious French female chef who flees France to live in a small village in Denmark to work for free as a housekeeper for two elderly and austere spinster sisters. After winning the lottery, Babette chooses to spend all the proceeds on preparing a culinary feast for the community with the finest wines and imported ingredients to create a menu found only at the finest restaurants in Paris. Babette decides to remain in this small village and live the simple life. Recently, I had the delightful honor of interviewing Chef Lasse Sorenson, who was the actual chef of Babette’s Feast. How fascinating to hear his stories about cooking for this beloved movie. And Chef Sorensen has the sole rights to prepare Babette’s Feast in the United States!
Chef Lasse Sorensen is a culinary genius whose life’s journey has taken him from Denmark to DeSoto. For any discerning foodie, his restaurant, Tom’s Place is an oasis in Southern Illinois. Chef Sorensen grew up with a passion for cuisine, especially since his father was the royal pastry chef to the Queen of Denmark. His father even won a Guinness World Record for creating the world’s largest wedding cake in 1983. During our kitchen chat, Chef Lasse Sorensen shares, “I always wanted to be a chef. My heart is in the kitchen.” He trained with some of the world’s top chefs, including Chef Paul Bocuse and earned a master’s degree in the culinary arts. Although Chef Sorensen had the opportunity to open a restaurant in Napa Valley, he chose instead to move to DeSoto, a small town in southern Illinois, and purchased Tom’s Place. This venue has a vibrant past with tales of Al Capone during the 1930s. Twenty years ago when Chef Sorensen bought Tom’s Place, the restaurant’s prior owners featured fried frog legs and fried chicken on the menu. However, Chef Sorensen was ready to make Tom’s Place into a five star restaurant. And he has! His restaurant is highly acclaimed earning five stars for excellence from the prestigious North American Restaurant Association and receiving Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence. In an ironic parallel twist, Chef Sorensen has transformed the tastes and expanded the palates of a small community– just like Babette!
And each spring. Chef Sorensen hosts an exquisite event to celebrate the bountiful harvest of morel mushrooms in southern Illinois.
On a side note, Chef Sorensen is seeking an apprentice.
Savor the day!