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The perfect start.

For Mikkel Karstad, every day of the year begins by the water. Before his children wake up, he and his wife Camilla set out for one of Copenhagen’s many lidos. On a cold day, the water temperature falls to nearly zero degrees, but when you leap into the icy liquid and take the first couple of strokes, the adrenaline takes over. This makes the perfect start to the day, and prepares Mikkel for whatever lies ahead.

A portrait of Mikkel Karstad.
Mikkel Karstad walks alongside a new white Mercedes-Benz V-Class 250 d.

His story.

Mikkel Karstad is one of Denmark’s most extraordinary chefs, with an extraordinary career to boot. He learned his trade the traditional way at Michelin-starred international restaurants. At the age of 17, he went to London to cook under Gordon Ramsay, before moving on to do stints in Paris and Copenhagen. This harboured great ambitions – but the stress in the kitchen was great too. Interactions at work were coarse, and the day was practically endless. By the time he reached his late 20s, Mikkel had two dreams: to have his own restaurant and a large family. He was forced to make a choice. Memories of his childhood bubbled to the surface.

Career vs. family.

He was about four years old when his parents divorced – which perhaps explains why he wanted to be there for his son – and when his wife Camilla became pregnant with their second child, the choice was clear. From now on, he would be a family man. He turned his back on the world of Michelin-star cuisine, but didn’t give up his passion for cooking. He sought and found a third way – a job as the canteen chef for the Danish parliament in Christiansborg Palace. Leading a 40-strong team, he cooks for up to 1,500 members of parliament and employees daily, with enough time left over for his family at home. His family keeps growing, as do his work responsibilities.

Mikkel Karstad drinks a coffee and looks out of the window where a white Mercedes-Benz V-Class 250 d stands.
Mikkel Karstad loads a box of food into the boot of a Mercedes-Benz V-Class 250 d.

Cook, author, food stylist.

The Danish food entrepreneur and co-founder of the renowned Noma restaurant Claus Meyer employs Mikkel as a gastronomic consultant for his canteens, restaurants and bakeries, developing new sustainable and seasonal recipes. His CV shows real depth too, with three books under his belt as an author, and work as a food stylist in close cooperation with photographers and chefs. What’s more, his family – which now comprises his four children Oscar, Alma, Konrad and Viggo – is finally complete.

A restorative dose of nature.

A white V-Class drives through the streets of Copenhagen. We see the striking architecture of the new city district of Nordhavn reflecting in the van’s large windows. Here, in the former industrial docks, a new sustainable and futuristic city concept is being developed – and this fuel-conscious MPV fits seamlessly into this vision. Mikkel sits behind the wheel, with Camilla next to him, whilst the children take the rear bench and seats in the back. They are going to their summer house in Tisvilde. It’s a place where the Karstads go to relax. But first they need to make a stop on the way to search for and gather ingredients for their evening meal.

Four kids sitting in the back of a Mercedes-Benz V-Class 250 d playing games.
Image of the interior of a Mercedes-Benz V-Class 250 d showing the centre console. Mikkel Karstad sits at the wheel.

A touch of pure sophistication.

As humans, we don’t need exotic plastic-wrapped superfoods that have been shipped across the Atlantic. We should only take from nature what we actually need. In Mikkel’s grandparents’ kitchen, every single item of food was regarded as something of value. Mikkel wants his children to inherit this same conscientious relationship to food. He also expresses this in his recipes. Few ingredients are used, and the person eating them should be able to taste all of them in the finished dish. Even when he cooks for his children, he’s keen for them to know what is on their plates. On today’s menu are fried eggs with asparagus, fresh chanterelles and wild sorrel.

Treasures in the woods.

Mikkel sets off into the woods with six year-old Viggo. As his youngest child knows yellow chanterelles like to grow on the mossy forest floor in the shadow of the tall pines. Little Viggo attacks the mushrooms with zeal, placing them carefully in the small basket before looking for the next batch. And he doesn’t let up, clearly relishing the task of plucking and collecting the sorrel, leaf by leaf. Mikkel recalls the moment when the decision became clear. When his vocation suddenly became more important than all other career prospects. The moment when he chose family. The cool northerly wind caresses the treetops. It’s time to get going.

Mikkel Karstad and a boy are searching for mushrooms in the forest.

Work-life balance.

It’s easy to make out the Karstads’ V-Class in amongst the lush green of the forest. The clouds hurry by, their reflection caught in the many-faceted diamond grill and chrome air intakes. Mikkel opens the rear window and stows the basket with the mushrooms and sorrel in the luggage compartment. Meanwhile, Viggo has found another chanterelle on the way, and needs to add it to the rest. Mikkel lifts him up and helps him to place the final mushroom in the basket. The rear window closes, and the family continues their journey through the Danish outback and towards the coast.

Like most Danes, Mikkel and Camilla place great value on their free time away from their busy working lives. In the OECD’s Better Life Index, which compares the social well-being in different countries, Denmark has dominated in the category for work-life balance for years. In 2017, the Danes came in second place after the Netherlands. About 60 per cent of Danish families say they have no difficulty balancing work and family life. It’s even better when you have a family vehicle flexible enough to handle both, and which always gets you safely to your destination.

Mikkel Karstad is preparing food in a kitchen.

Midsummer night blues.

At Tisvilde, the V-Class parks in the driveway of their holiday home. Little Viggo brings the basket into the house and helps his father prepare food in the kitchen. Meanwhile, the table is being laid. Today is the evening before Midsummer, the longest day of the year and summer solstice. A faint sound of live music can be heard from the next village, joined now by the sound of fried eggs, which are sizzling away in the pan. Mikkel has already added lemon and butter to enrich the asparagus. Once it has been plated, it’s left to Viggo to apply the final touch. Under the watchful eye of his father, he casts the sorrel leaves over the dish with a grand flourish. Bon appetit.

Family time at its best.

Darkness gradually spreads over the evening sky. In the gardens of the holiday homes, campfires begin to flicker, crackle and snap. The Karstads gather around the warmth of the fire. Mikkel takes a look around him as thoughts criss-cross his mind. His life is filled with many passions, and the most important ones are gathered around him today. To him, family time is more important than any Michelin star.

View through a door to a family having dinner on the terrace.
Two hands are serving a dish.

Make your Move: Mikkel Karstad’s recipe.

Fried eggs with asparagus, chanterelle mushrooms and wood sorrel.

Serves 4. Peel and chop 4 white and 4 green asparagus spears. Lightly sauté in olive oil in a pan, then keep them warm in a dish. Wash 200 g chanterelles and cut into pieces. Fry in a pan over a medium heat with butter and lemon and put into the same dish as the asparagus. Season with freshly ground salt and pepper. Fry 1 egg per person for 2–3 minutes each in a pan. Peel and finely chop 1 red onion. Lay the fried egg on a plate, add the chanterelles and asparagus and then garnish with a generous amount of onion and 2 handfuls of wood sorrel. Add another pinch of salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Articles, News & Videos.

Kraftstoffverbrauch kombiniert CO₂-Emissionen kombiniert Stromverbrauch im kombinierten Testzyklus

Product may vary after press date on 27.06.2019.

1 Die angegebenen Werte wurden nach dem vorgeschriebenen Messverfahren ermittelt. Es handelt sich um die „NEFZ-CO₂-Werte“ i. S. v. Art. 2 Nr. 1 Durchführungsverordnung (EU) 2017/1153. Die Kraftstoffverbrauchswerte wurden auf Basis dieser Werte errechnet. Der Stromverbrauch wurde auf der Grundlage der VO 692/2008/EG ermittelt. Weitere Informationen zum offiziellen Kraftstoffverbrauch und den offiziellen spezifischen CO₂-Emissionen neuer Personenkraftwagen können dem „Leitfaden über den Kraftstoffverbrauch, die CO₂-Emissionen und den Stromverbrauch aller neuen Personenkraftwagenmodelle“ entnommen werden, der an allen Verkaufsstellen und bei der Deutschen Automobil Treuhand GmbH unter www.dat.de unentgeltlich erhältlich ist.

4 Angaben zu Kraftstoffverbrauch, Stromverbrauch und CO₂-Emissionen sind vorläufig und wurden vom Technischen Dienst für das Zertifizierungsverfahren nach Maßgabe des WLTP-Prüfverfahrens ermittelt und in NEFZ-Werte korreliert. Eine EG-Typgenehmigung und Konformitätsbescheinigung mit amtlichen Werten liegen noch nicht vor. Abweichungen zwischen den Angaben und den amtlichen Werten sind möglich.

6 Stromverbrauch und Reichweite wurden auf der Grundlage der VO 692/2008/EG ermittelt. Stromverbrauch und Reichweite sind abhängig von der Fahrzeugkonfiguration. Weitere Informationen zum offiziellen Kraftstoffverbrauch und den offiziellen spezifischen CO₂-Emissionen neuer Personenkraftwagen können dem „Leitfaden über den Kraftstoffverbrauch, die CO₂-Emissionen und den Stromverbrauch aller neuen Personenkraftwagenmodelle“ entnommen werden, der an allen Verkaufsstellen und bei der Deutschen Automobil Treuhand GmbH unter www.dat.de unentgeltlich erhältlich ist.