Mielcke & Hurtigkarl,
Mielcke & Hurtigkarl,
Mielcke & Hurtigkarl sits gracefully in the gardens of the Danish Royal Horticultural Society and is the former stables of the Danish Royal family. The building dates back to the 17th century with the first restaurant was opening there 30 years ago by the pioneering Danish Chef Roy Hurtigkarl. Today it is run by Jakob Mielcke and Jan Hurtigkarl (Roys’ son). Jakob heads the kitchen and creative development and Jan oversees administration and events.
I came by on a very rainy day and spoke with chefs Nicole and Bart (a couple who meet as interns at Noma) about the afternoon staff meal.
There is a lot of pride and passion in the Copenhagen food scene right now. There is much experimentation going on, here we really like to mix things up. The menu is fusion style with lots of Asian ingredients inspired by Jakob’s love for that region, but prepared in French and Danish methods. We then offer several drink pairings with our meals – wine, champagne, juice or kombucha.
The design is also very experimental, four artists have the bathrooms in their signature style. One designer, Margrethe Odgaard is responsible for the design of the interior. A mix of one-off art installations and new danish design. They are all local artists and friends with the owners. There is a bit of an Alice in Wonderland style to it. The crystal chandelier pulses to the soundscape, we don’t play music, but instead recordings from nature taking you through the evening from the frogs to the owl and the wind flowing through grass... There is also a 100 year old olive tree in the centre of the room to bring some of the garden feeling inside.
Every day the staff meal changes and we all take turns at cooking it. It’s very free for us and we do whatever we want, I typically make Asian style food then when Cecilia is in charge it might be more Danish. We sit at the banquet table in the alcove next to the kitchen. When the weather is nice we open the doors and also sometimes grill outdoors.
Jakob and Jan, place a lot of importance on the staff meal. They believe if we eat well, we will work well. You can see when people like the staff food, they are happy and if it’s bad they are grumpy and there’s a poor mood amongst the staff. Saturday is the biggest Staff Meal as it’s the biggest night and the end of the week, so we want to reward the staff with something very nice.
Although we try to use trimmings where possible to create the meal we do often order something special as well. Today I started making something light then when it began to rain I changed my mind and went for something a little heavier. We also change for the seasons, generally lighter in summer and heavier in winter. If there is something we are researching in the kitchen we often try it at the staff meal first. In this way it can also be an exchange of knowledge between the staff, teaching new ways of cooking and discussing the results. Today we tried a fermented miso paste which was being tested for the first time. We tell them how we made it and do a little course with the staff about it so they understand the process and then discuss our thoughts on it.
It’s not a big team and we are a very close kitchen, but during the day and night we don't get much of an opportunity to mix with the front of house. The staff meal is a great way of mixing it up and getting the entire team together.
You have to have coffee at a staff meal! If there’s no coffee people get upset. Whenever you have food you need to have coffee, this is a strong restaurant tradition here in Denmark.
Pancake made from coconut, turmeric, rice and flour
fermented miso paste made with fennel
coriander, peanuts, mint, crispy onions, bean sprouts.
Michał, Catrine, Sebastian, Katia, Sofus, Daniel, Nicole, Bartek, Trine, Ólavur, Árni, Caspar, Pawel.
Find Mielcke & Hurtigkarl here!