It Takes Guts…and a Pushy Guy Named René

GUTS!!!! (Photo Credit: Amass)

GUTS!!!! (Photo Credit: Amass)

It has been a couple of weeks since the MAD Symposium overtook the city. For me, this was the first time I have gotten to look at it from an outsider’s perspective and it is truly an amazing thing. I’ve always thought of it as pretty incredible, but I had a biased view of it for the first two years because I was directly involved in the planning and the event itself. But now that I have my own place, I realize that MAD brings an energy to the city and especially to all the restaurants within it. One of the reasons that I wanted to stay in Copenhagen is the sense of community within the restaurant industry. There are no egos or attitudes. Everyone is working towards the same goal. That sense of community was put to the test during MAD and I have to say that I have never seen a city come together as a team and cook like Copenhagen. Not only did everyone feel the responsibility to perform for their own restaurant’s sake, but also for every other restaurant’s sake. From what I heard around town, no one fell down on their responsibility.  So to the restaurant industry in Copenhagen: Thank you so much for such an incredible week and for allowing us be a part of something special.

The legend. If you don't know who this guy is, you don't deserve to know... (Photo Credit: Amass)

The legend. If you don’t know who this guy is, you don’t deserve to know… (Photo Credit: Amass)

But before we even got to the MAD Symposium, we had some decisions to make. When we announced our opening date there were two reactions: 1) You are crazy to open only 4 weeks before the MAD Symposium, and/or 2) You need to open before the MAD Symposium. Obviously we were all for the second response. Yes, it might have been a bit risky to only be open for a month before the restaurant world has its eyes on Copenhagen, but it pushed us harder than any one person could have ever pushed us.  It made us evaluate and reevaluate everything we were doing on a daily basis. We were forced to find solutions  ­– NOT problems. The staff rose to the challenge and I am truly grateful for their hard work and commitment to this place. Thank you Bo, Kim, Julie, Jens, David, Daniel, Kim, Mikaela, Fanny, Emil, Scotty, Evelyn, Emil, Jacquie, Lamin and Tibi.

What happened? To work at a restaurant during MAD is one thing, but to own a restaurant

Is that a mixer???? (Photo Credit: Amass)

Is that a mixer???? (Photo Credit: Amass)

during MAD is another. The pressure to deliver is crazy, but first and foremost you are cooking for all the people that you love to cook for – your friends, past colleagues, other chefs. Of course we held back for last minute bookings, but we also put some tables for random people to book. I remember looking out into the dining room at one point and it was a Who’s Who of the restaurant industry. The energy in the room was explosive (EXPLODE JACQUIE!!!! Sorry…inside joke). Amongst all of these people was a table of locals looking around and wondering why are all these people walking around and talking to each other? Are we in the middle of a private function? They looked a bit confused, so I went down to chat with them and explain what was happening that week. Once informed, they too were so excited to be a part of it.  Over the course of the week, it happened a few more times; it was amazing to see the excitement on their faces.

Mission Street Chinese. Finesse under pressure. Tak for mad (For non-Danes: Thanks for food). (Photo Credit: Amass)

Mission Street Chinese. Finesse under pressure. Tak for mad (For non-Danes: Thanks for food). (Photo Credit: Amass)

In addition to all the things that I just mentioned, there’s one aspect to MAD that I really hadn’t appreciated before, especially as restaurant owner in Copenhagen. (And if you don’t recognize this then you should embrace it!) MAD drives us to do things that are above and beyond. It pushes us to our limits. At this point you can react in one of two ways: 1) You can fight through it, be thankful it is over and then go back to your previous routine OR 2) You can embrace them and at the end of it realize that these limits can become the norm. We chose the second. We offered an Extended Menu for the Symposium Week. I am happy to say that we are still offering the extended menu and that almost a third of our guests are ordering it. THANK YOU MAD, for pushing us to our limits and beyond.

And to René, I don’t even work for you anymore and you’re still pushing me.

Tusind Tak Chef.

Souk el Tayeb (Photo Credit: Amass)

Souk el Tayeb (Photo Credit: Amass)