Hello Kenneth, first let me ask you how you’re doing? What was the situation like in Denmark?
Very well, thank you! We were able to reopen both the hotel and restaurant on Monday (May 18th sic) and it is great to see our customers again and get back to work. In Denmark, businesses like ours were required to close for two months. As we are in the middle of the Danish countryside, we were unable to set up delivery or take-away offers, so we had to close completely during that time.
What did you do with all this ‘spare time’ on your hands?
Well, as we had only just reopened after several months of works, we took the opportunity to take care of some finishing touches, and to invent new recipes, etc.
It was very strange for us. Our establishment is on the coast of the North Sea, out in the countryside. There was quite a contrast between all the events and what we were experiencing here. Becoming a father, winning the Bocuse d’Or, reopening our restaurant inn, 2019 was really intense. 2020 was supposed to be more relaxed, but I guess that will have to wait for next year now!
How would you define your cuisine?
Our restaurant being right on the North Sea front, my cooking is directly connected and influenced by this. We rarely work with meat products, we use a lot of organic vegetables that are grown locally. We work with a dozen of producers in the area who propose products such as cabbages, lettuce, potatoes, but also oysters farmed in the fjords nearby, etc.
How do you work with the producers? How do you find them?
As we are only open part of the year, during the winter we go and meet them, taking the time to see how they work, discover their production and farming methods. Over the past years, we have met many farmers, but also fishermen, and beekeepers with whom we still work today.
Tell us more about your restaurant inn?
The inn is literally on the seafront and we welcome guests both at the restaurant and hotel. Our aim was to offer guests an opportunity to reconnect with the natural environment, to take the time. That is why we don’t propose amenities such as Wi-Fi or TV for example. We wanted our guests to feel at home. That is part of the reason they keep coming back!
Your restaurant has an unusual history, can you share it with us?
It was la dream come true. With my partner we had the opportunity to buy this historical timber building (the longest wooden house in Denmark) in 2015. We had really fallen in love with the place, its history and what it stood for.
In September 2016, the building was engulfed in a terrible fire. It sends shivers down my spine just thinking about it. That was such a blow for us we were K.O.
Then came the time to bounce back. So, I asked myself if we couldn’t take the same approach to rebuilding as we do with our cooking. This terrible fire would give us an opportunity to bring the restaurant even more in line with our philosophy. We used traditional construction techniques, sustainable materials, and were even able to fit solar panels. For instance, our refrigeration system works with CO2, wood for insulation, etc.
How did you bounce back?
I must admit, these two years were a bit crazy! Around the same time the reconstruction work began, I came across the application announcement to join the Danish team for the Bocuse d’Or. I felt compelled, the need to participate again (he took part in 2015 and came in 6th). So, I signed up! But I soon realised I had been over-enthusiastic. I had to start from scratch as I had lost everything in the fire, my recipe notes, my knives, really everything. Winning the selecting round gave me focus, it reminded me that this was what I was good at, I knew how to cook. However, preparing for such an important contest over two years, while rebuilding the hotel-restaurant at the same time was a major challenge!
A little later, around the same time as the Bocuse d’Or Europe, we learned that my partner was pregnant. The due date for the baby was around the same date as the final! In January, for our last test dinner before leaving for Lyon, we had invited ten journalists and partners to come and judge our creation. I was literally about to serve the dishes when I got a call from the hospital. I dropped everything and rushed off to meet my son! Unfortunately, I had to leave three days later for the grand finale in Lyon.
Interview conducted on May 20th, 2020.
Bocuse d’Or 2019
Chef owner of Svinkloev Badehotel, Denmark.