I have to give credit to my mum for pointing out Väkst. When I was planning my trip to Copenhagen, she said that she had seen pictures online of a new restaurant filled with plants and housing a greenhouse in its middle. She said it “looked magical” and would love to get a glimpse at their staff meal. So thanks to mum, I contacted them, and a week later I was in Väkst speaking with the manager Nikolai.
We want to feel like we are hosting a garden party in the middle of Copenhagen. In Denmark, garden parties are a big thing. Perhaps it’s because of our short summers, but we really like to celebrate dining and entertaining outdoors. We wanted to try to capture that energy in our space. We frame the experience with a menu of simple Nordic cuisine.
There are a lot of gaps between the front and the back of house during service times. We want to try to bridge these gaps at our staff meal. We ask the front and the back of house to sit together and hopefully share stories amongst each other that is from their lives outside the restaurant. This meal really helps bring our staff much closer together as this is the opportunity when the staff really get to know each other.
Every day, the morning chef comes up with a concept of what he wants to create for the staff meal, which is served at 4pm. Today we got steaks because there was a birthday in the kitchen and this was what he requested. There is a list that the staff have to fill out if they want to participate in the staff meal—most of them do—but this way we know exactly how many people we are cooking for so we can minimize any waste.
We are really conscious of what is served to the staff. Soup is unpopular because no one really feels fulfilled after it. We want to give them something that is more nourishing and gives them enough energy for the shift ahead. You definitely can feel the happiness from the staff when they have had a really good dinner, so this is always our goal.
There is another tradition in Denmark. After the chefs have made the staff meal and everyone is fed and satisfied, the waiters make coffee for the kitchen staff as their way of showing gratitude.