Day 10 — Takuss!

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Every beginning has an end. 

Yes, it’s the last day of the filming journey of A Taste of Greenland episode 4. Today was saved for the scenes that the crew may have missed due to delays or not-so-cooperating weather or whatever. The weather wasn’t perfect this morning, but the crew managed to do some time-lapse and additional rounds of the scenes that were taken in worse weather (or wrong sun lights), or simply for a better angle.

In the afternoon, the crew invited about 40 Greenlanders (artists, families, students, etc.) to the house and took pictures of them using a camera dolly. After all, A Taste of Greenland project is about promoting Greenland and we thought it would be nice to show Greenland with their own faces. I’m not sure exactly how our editor and assistant director of photography Adrian Beard will use the shots, but I’m sure it will be “fantastic.” Adrian asked the people not to look at the camera but the wall behind him, and not to laugh. (I tried it just for fun although I’m not a Greenlander, and I found not smiling or laughing in front of the camera really difficult. I think in the end, Adrian gave up on me. Smile.)

Thank you Chris Coubrough.
Thank you Eskil Hardt.
Thank you Esben Hardt.
Thank you Adrian Beard.
Thank you Finn Noer.
for all the great shots and making the long-days of work super fun.

Thank you Per for the great dinners and your dedication.
Thank you Mikael Jacobsen. We all loved your Behind the Scenes videos.

And YOU, our readers and viewers! Thank you for following our 10-day journey. Hope you enjoyed the videos and blog posts as much as we did.

Every end is a new beginning.  

And of course, we’re not finished yet! The crew will come back to Greenland next June to make episode 5, A Taste of North Greenland. Yay!! We look forward to meeting you again next year.

+ It usually takes about 6-8 weeks until Adrian finishes editing an episode. Hope we can present it to you soon. (No pressure, Adrian. grin)

Qujanaq! & Takuss!

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Day 9 — Last Food Scenes

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It’s 9 a.m. We’re at Sarfalik, one of the fanciest restaurants in town. Here we’re going to film a chef-to-chef talk. As this restaurant normally doesn’t open for breakfast, we brought in our own guests to make the scene more natural. Jan from Pro Greenland and Annamary from Nuuk Tourism came to help us. And our team members Mikael and I took another table. Thanks all!

Annamary and Jan

So, these fake guests were provided with apple juice and salad, as the picture wouldn’t be pretty if they just sat and idled there. Though, the guests had to eat and drink very slowly as some food had better be left on the plates until filming is done. In fact, near the end of the filming, the crew asked Jan and Annamary to drink their juice but none was left in Jan’s glass. He acted pretty good though. He managed to drink the “juice” (or air), TWICE!

So while the guests were restraining themselves from jumping to the food, Chris was talking with the hotel restaurant chef over the dishes he creates using Greenlandic ingredients. The chef said cooking in Greenland can be challenging because the ingredients are not supplied steadily. It’s quite understandable. The same happens with everyday’s grocery shopping. Here, sometimes you will find no eggs in stores and at another time you won’t have any onions or leeks. You just have to live with it (or be creative!)

As soon as we finished with the hotel restaurant scene, we hurried to the house of Hans Egede where Chris is going to cook with Prime Minister of Greenland. (Note: Hans Egede is Norwegian-Danish missionary who founded Nuuk in 1721.) This yellow house is one of the oldest houses in Nuuk and PM is using it as a guess house and/or a meeting place.

At 1:10 p.m. Prime Minister Kuupik Kleist arrived in the house in casual wear. We’ve been told that PM has been interested in A Taste of Greenland project and very supportive. He just returned from a business trip, but he didn’t mind spending over three hours for the filming. As you may already know, filming requires patience. People starring in it should do the same scene over and over again until the producer/director says okay, and also for different angles. And there are usually more than one scene. We had four scenes here: PM welcoming Chris to the house; cooking with Chris; having a coffee with Chris in the garden; and sending Chris off in an electric car—not necessarily in that order. It was great to have PM in the program because that can show how much Greenland cares about tourism and wants to let the world know more about the country.

So, today’s menu: reindeer or caribou. (FYI, reindeer hunting season begins in August. It’s perfect time to cook the meat.) While PM was helping Chris grilling reindeer, they talked a lot about the future of Greenland: mining, green energy, all that represent the pioneering aspects of the nation.

I loved the last scene, which Chris drove away in an electric car. He pulled out the car, he stared at the camera, which was on his left side, with a funny smile on his face. Check it out yourself in the Behind the Scenes:

+ Electric cars:
There are three electric cars in Nuuk whose batteries are charged by hydro-power. I drove the one Chris used for the scene, and it was pretty amazing. Nearly no noise, great acceleration for such a small car, long enough range with one battery charge (maybe not for big cities, but in Nuuk, you don’t need to charge the batteries more than once a day.) What I didn’t like about it though was the steering wheel, which is very stiff to make turns.

Day 8 — The Modern and The Ancient Coexist Here

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If you think Greenland is all about snow and ice, you’d be surprised to see how developed and how modern it is. Particularly in Nuuk, its capital. The buildings, architecture, energy, fashion, music, IT, it’s amazingly developed. And we wanted to show the modern side of the society in this episode.

One of Nuuk’s must-visits is Katuaq, the cultural center. So Chris met with modern artists–Julie Hardenberg, Inuk Hoegh, and Nanook.

Julie is a movie poster designer but in fact, none of them are actual movies. “I wanted to make posters about [Greenland’s] everyday heroes,” she said, to raise Greenlanders’ self-esteem and pride. She has created 16 posters so far of firefighters, policemen, doctors, students who strive for the country’s independence, among others. And the models are actually in the profession.
Inuk is a sculptor who makes sculptures that combine the traditional Tupilak and modern plastic toys. Uungaa is a photographer of Greenland’s nature but only in black and white. Nanook is one of the most popular bands in Greenland whose music reminds of that of Coldplay.

Finn Noer's steadicam and a dolly filming Nanook playing. By SungHa Park

If the whole morning was about the 21st century of Greenland, in the afternoon the crew made a visit to the world’s oldest mountain. Here we’re talking about some 3.8 billion years old. Chris and the crew took the helicopter with a special guest, professor and geologist Minik Rosing. (The day the crew arrived in Nuuk, we turned on the TV and saw Dr. Rosing interviewed for the National Geographic channel. What a coincidence!)
Dr. Rosing was very talented in explaining the mere rocks very interestingly. Geology can be a very boring subject but he was good at making it sound fascinating. But yet it was not the only thing he was good at. It turned out that he can communicate with reindeers! Take a look!

Day 7 — True GREENland

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What a beautiful day! The sky’s super clear. No clouds. Sunshine. It’s a perfect day to sail out.

The crew sailed off to Lysefjord to catch sea urchins, or uni, at 4 a.m. in “Hillary Boat” (Hillary R. Clinton was on board when she was in Nuuk in May for Arctic Council). Erik Jacobsen, the captain, said yesterday that we have to be at a specific spot by 6 a.m. if we want to be sure to catch sea urchins. It’s the best time to catch them, tide-wise.

The crew got there on time. With the help of Erik, Chris scooped “a bucket of” Greenlandic wild sea urchins using a landing net, right from the boat. That easy. (Wish filming the scene were that easy too. grin)

10 a.m. Bruch on Board

We had a special guest today—AnnSo Hardenberg. She’s author of a cook book and host of a Greenlandic food TV program. She’s known as “the queen of country food cookery” and Royal family of Denmark often visits her to try her food when they’re in Greenland. (For those who are puzzled about the relationship between Denmark and Greenland: Greenland is still part of the Kingdom of Denmark. Although Greenland has won self-rule governance in 2009, Denmark still has a say on foreign and military affairs.)

So, AnnSo brought various dishes that she prepared using local products. She basically makes nearly everything from the scratch. It’s just amazing.

A picnic on board. By Mikael L. Jacobsen

After having a great brunch picnic on board, the boat took the crew to a settlement which has a garden where Chris picked up some vegetables for today’s cooking scene. There’re several farms in southern Greenland, but vegetables grow near Nuuk? According to the owner of the garden, the Vikings used this area as a dump about 500 years ago, and that dump got decomposed and made the soil fertile today. That’s why he can grow vegetables even without having a greenhouse at 64 degrees latitude.

I’m not going to give you the details how Chris cooked today’s dish using the fresh sea urchins and vegetables. But I can tell you the display was splendid. Chris put the dish in a sea urchin shell and served it on over 10,000-year-old iceberg, with the vodka made from glacier ice.

Great shots. Perfect weather. Awesome food. Nothing can be better, the crew thought. But you never know. Another pleasant surprise was waiting for us on our way back to Nuuk.

Take a look!

Day 6 — C’est la vie

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Looking at the crew filming a scene is getting more interesting. I mean, they’re quite creative in terms of using tools. In the morning, we went to a local supermarket to take shots of Chris shopping groceries. We had a steadicam with our cameraman Finn Noer, and all of sudden, he was sitting in a shopping cart, letting producer Eskil Hardt drive it around the store.

Producer Eskil Hardt driving the shopping cart in which Finn Noer is sitting.

In the afternoon, the crew went to the airport to fly around Nuuk. They were going to take the bird eye shots of Nuuk in a helicopter having windows open. For the safety, they hooked themselves as well as all the equipments to the heli with harnesses. Unnecessary items like microphones were already detached (you won’t be able to take any sounds beside the buzzing wind sound anyway). It took quite a while for Finn to wear the harness (with help from Eskil) and squeeze himself and his steadicam into the small side seats (he’s 178cm tall, or 5.84ft, and the seats are not even comfortable for a 153cm-tall woman).

Eskil helping Finn getting installed in the heli. By SungHa Park

But alas! As soon as they’re ready to fly, the helicopter got an emergency call. We were not informed of any details, but the pilot had to fly to the emergency site and wouldn’t be back by the night. The trip was canceled. And at the moment, there is nothing we can do but hope someone out there who needed help is fine.

 

Day 5 — First day at school and kaffemik

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It’s the third Friday of August, the day six- or seven-year-old children go to school for the first time in their lives. It is a big day for the kids and their family. Most first graders go to school in traditional costume, holding their parents’ hands many of whom are also wearing the traditional clothes.

This year the school welcomed 40 new students. They gathered in the playground and sang national anthem. School principal called each student’s name, four at a time. The students got on a sledge-like cart and their teachers pushed the cart for about 5 meters. That’s the moment their school life began.

Chris and the filming crew went to the school early in the morning to make this important event to A Taste of Greenland. A crane cam was set in the school ground, having a cute small fence around, and a camera was put up on our truck for time lapse. At school, Chris met Julia and Bo, whose twin boys started the school today, for an interview. In the middle of the interview, the crew had to stop a couple times as there was a girl who was crying hysterically near the scene. She probably wasn’t happy about going to school.

After the ceremony, families throw a kaffemik, or Greenlandic social gathering that comes with lots of cakes, and coffee and tea, to celebrate the day. Kaffemik is held whenever there’s something to celebrate, such as birthday, wedding day, confirmation, first hunting day, etc. It is more like an open house. During a four- or five-hour span, friends and families come and go freely. The hosts usually don’t know how many guests they should expect, as to RSVP isn’t common here. It can be 50 people, or 100 people, or even more. For bigger events like confirmation, parents prepare the food for almost a week.

For today’s kaffemik, Julia and her family prepared the cakes and food for two days, expecting about 70 guests. And Chris decided to contribute with his scallop appetizer. Chris cooked the scallops again at the house the crew is staying, and went to Julia and Bo’s house to share his dish with their guests.

Here comes the tricky part: Loads of kids had their first day at school, meaning there are a number of kaffemiks going around in the city. It’s not surprising one person is invited to several kaffemiks today, meaning we do not know when the guests will be here.

When we finished setting up all the cameras in their balcony, it was around 3:30 p.m. Julia invited people to come from 4 to 8 p.m. so we still have some time. We thought we would need to wait just for a bit. We sat back and relaxed, having a cup of coffee/tea and some cakes Julia baked. But soon we started realizing that we might need to wait longer than expected. We ended up waiting for about two hours until we had enough guests to film of.

Video by Mikael L. Jacobsen

As the house got crowded, Julia and Bo became busy to greet the guests and make sure the food was not running out. “I’m so proud of them,” Julia said, looking at the boys hanging around with the guests. “They’re little kids, but now they’ve grown to go to school.”

Day 4 — Greenland Ice-cream

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Certainly you can sell ice to the Eskimo. I mean, literally.

People assume that Greenland is freezingly cold all year round, but in fact, it can be very hot in summer. The temperature itself doesn’t go up significantly high, but the sun is very strong and it can feel like 30°C , or 86°F. You even get tanned in the house, as most of the houses here have big windows.

No wonder, Maik, a local hair dresser, came up with this idea: Why not making Greenlandic ice-cream! But not just any ice-cream. He makes it lactose-free and fat-free. And most interestingly, he uses water from the ice cap in Greenland!

Today is definitely one of those days you crave ice-cream.

So, Maik came to the old harbour in his bike ice-cream cart for A Taste of Greenland.

Chris tasted angelica and blueberry flavors, and his favorite? Greenlandic blueberry ice-cream!

+ A few notes on other scenes:

Earlier in the morning, the crew went to the marina to take a scene with Greenlandic wild salmon. As the gates to the marina was locked, we had to ask one, who was working at a car repair center nearby, to open the door. When they recognized Chris (Yup, he is popular in Greenland), they wanted to get his autobiography and shook his hands (They didn’t mind his salmon-smelly hands.)

In the afternoon, the crew went to Julia and Bo’s house to film our second cooking scene. Their twin boys go to the school tomorrow for the first time in their lives. The first day at school is a big event in Greenland, and always accompanies a kaffemik, Greenlandic social gathering that comes with lots of food, mainly cakes, and coffee and tea. We’re going to have a shooting at the kaffemik tomorrow, sharing Chris’s dish with the guests. But today in order to avoid all the hustle and bustle, we filmed the cooking scene today. He cooked the scallops with Bo, the father of the boy, and… Mmmmmm, yummmmm!!

Guests will love it tomorrow!!

Video by Mikael L. Jacobsen

Day 3 — “A Real Graste of Teenland!”

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It was still foggy in the morning, and we even had a snow shower. (Yes, in August!!!)

When the weather isn’t helping, we take indoor shots. Today’s first destination is Godthåb Bryghus, a local brewery. Our plan was finishing the brewery scene by 1 p.m., but the shooting didn’t end until almost 3 p.m. Setting up the cameras took longer than expected. It was the first time we used the crane-cam for this episode. And, even though we had checked the gears before heading out, a camera didn’t function as it was supposed to, and then a cable that connects another, properly working, camera to the monitor on the crane didn’t work. Machines… they are as unpredictable as the weather, aren’t they?

We had three main scenes in the brewery: Chris and Alex, the brewery master, talking about the ingredients; adding molt; and talking in the fermentation room, sipping the beer right from the tank.

 

Alex and Chris talking in a fermentation room, sipping the beer right from the tank. By SungHa Park

Per, a volunteer for the project and our great insider chef, and Mikael, Behind the Scenes cameraman, joined the crew the filming. Without their help, it would have taken a lot longer.

At around 3 p.m., still not having lunch yet, we packed everything up, put them back in the cars, and drove to Qinngorput for our first cooking scene. (Finally!!! the sky cleared up!!!)

The site we agreed on yesterday is actually located at the end of the road in Nuuk to the east. Qinngorput is a new district of Nuuk and still expanding, having more apartment buildings under construction. Here Chris will cook the wild Greenlandic salmon with the background of the new developing area one side and the beautiful fjord the other side.

So, while setting up the cameras, the team had to find time to have cold sandwiches. Of course, Chris was not an exception. You can see what Chris had for lunch in the Behind the Scenes.


Video by Mikael L. Jacobsen

Although the crew had to fight mosquitoes, everything went perfect. The dish was so tasty that our cameraman Finn Noer even slipped his tongue: “A Real Graste of Teenland!”

Day 2—Cranked in!

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The second day began with grocery shopping for the cooking scene, which was scheduled for the afternoon. Our host Chris and producer Eskil went to Brugseni, one of the two biggest grocery chains in Greenland along with Pisiffik.

Hunting for the ingredients sounds easy. But in fact, even buying olive oil can be tricky. One of my colleagues got the organic olive oil, but the bottle was too big. Chris, the chef, picked up one, but its label was too crowded. After looking at several bottles, Eskil finally found one perfect for TV. In TV production, those little details matter.

We had initially planned to film a cooking scene in the afternoon. But the foggy and misty weather made us change the schedule, yes from the very first day. (The weather in Greenland is unpredictable.) The cooking scene has to wait for another day. So, instead, the crew headed to the board or a local fish market that sells local catch.

Our first shooting began, right here, with a scene of Chris buying scallops. Hans, who is selling fish at the shop and speaks good English, agreed to be today’s scallop seller for the program. Although we had to take the same scene over and over, he kept smiling and even managed to sell some fish to his customers during a couple minutes he had between filming. He also gave us a big laugh by saying “Hello, daddy!” right to the camera. Qujanaq, Hans!

After finishing the first shots successfully, the crew headed to Godthåb Bryghus, the brewery in Nuuk, to check out the venue. There are two more breweries in Greenland: One is in Narsarq and the other in Ilulissat. Chris’s wife has her own brewery, so he had a good knowledge about what’s going on in that beer house. He could already tell the difference between his wife’s and Godthåb, and had tons of questions to ask Alex, the master at the brewery. However, Chris had to restrain himself from asking questions as he wanted it to flow naturally and spontaneously when actually filming tomorrow.

As the weather isn’t yet favorable, the crew went out to Qinngorput, a new district of Nuuk, for a site hunting for a cooking scene. After spending for an hour or so, the crew found a spot that everyone agreed on.

Hope the weather gets better tomorrow so that we can film the first cooking scene of the episode 4, A Taste of Greenland in Nuuk. Fingers crossed!!

 

Here they come

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The filming crew of A Taste of Greenland arrived in Nuuk today with our host and chef Chris Coubrough to film the program’s fourth episode in the country’s capital region.

A Taste of Greenland is a TV program that follows Chris as he discovers the culinary of Greenland. Chris visits different destinations and cooks dishes using Greenland’s, particularly the area’s, ingredients.

Previously, it was filmed in East Greenland, South Greenland, and the Arctic Circle area. This time, the episode will introduce the capital region’s attractions and Chris’s new dishes inspired by local ingredients.

So, let me introduce the crew (drum roll, please):

Producer Eskil Hardt
Director of Photography Esben Hardt
Assistant Director and Editor Adrian Beard, and
Cameraman Finn Noer.

(Well, the titles are what their business cards say, and all participate in the shooting with all different sizes of cameras.)

Their base camp is a hotel apartment near the old harbour, run by Hotel Hans Egede. Please note: Previous guests here were the Queen of Denmark and her husband. We’re honored.

Nearly as soon as they checked in to the house, the crew had a meeting with Greenland Tourism, going over the schedules, discussing dishes Chris will cook for the show and the message Greenland wants to send out with this episode.

See what they did:

Filmed and edited by Mikael L. Jacobsen

Itinerary, check. Menu, check. Equipments, check. Weather, eh… not so much check, yet. Passion and energy, super duper check.

Our 10-day journey begins, NOW!