I have always loved food. When I was a child I enjoyed sitting on the kitchen table next to my mom while she was cooking. I was curious about flavors and always asked her to taste everything. One day she was cooking a sauce made with sambal oelek chili paste, which I insisted to try. My mom tried to worn me. But I kept insisting and finally she decided that if I wanted to learn the hard (read. hot!) way, then she wouldn't refuse me to. And that became the day, when I in an age of three, learnt that sambal oelek paste is a pretty spicy lady.!
During high school I studied really hard as I wanted to enter medical school. Half way through a summer course before turning in my application, I suddenly felt extremely tired and exhausted of studying. I had lost the motivation and was day dreaming about travelling. After a few days of considerations I decided to take a break and look for a job to start saving money for travelling. By coincidence I stumbled over a job posting by a fast food chain restaurant. A few days after I had my first shift and a month later, I was promoted to shift manager. There may be many prejudices about working in fast food chain restaurants; my conclusion after working a year in one, was a really instructive experience. It takes discipline and guts to serve hundreds of hungry and sometimes very drunk fast food clients any time of the day.
After a year with burgers and fries I was offered a job in an artisanal ice cream shop. All ice creams were freshly made every morning with high quality products such as organic cane sugar, milk and cream from a small Danish farm and seasonal fresh fruits. I spend the first year preparing thousands of liters of ice cream on the shop’s Italian ice cream machine and during opening hours I assisted in the sales. The Danish people love ice cream and on sunny days people would stand in line outside the shop from noon until late night. In the beginning of 2008, in the age of 22, I was offered to manage the shop and its 10 employees. A job that I really enjoyed and learnt a lot from during the following two years. Each year in winter, when it was too cold for ice cream, the shop closed down for a couple of months. During these months I spend the time realizing my dreams about travelling. My first trip went to the Philippines which is also the home country of my father. I really love travelling in the Philippines and I have since spent a lot of hours both on and under the surface of the countries many islands, where I got my interest for scuba diving. During the years working in the ice cream shop I traveled the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Cuba and Egypt combining my love for travelling and scuba diving.
During a special event, helping a barista friend serving coffee, I had the luck to work next to a Michelin starred Danish chef. During the event we exchanged coffee with food from the chef and his team. I don’t remember the exact food but I perfectly remember the garnish; freshly grated black truffle! I had never tasted or smelled truffle before. The smell was so amazing and there is no doubt that this experience was one of the reasons why I started to grow a big interest for gastronomy. I began to spend my money on dining in the best restaurant I could find wherever I went. I felt in love with the whole dining experience; every step from the aperitif and snacks to the actual dinner with wine parings to the coffee and petit fours. I was fascinated by observing the service in each restaurant. It felt like going to the theater – but even better! After a few very good dining experiences I realized that this was what I wanted to do. I wanted to become part of it, but not only from the seat of a guest. I was curious to know what was going one “behind the scenes”. I wanted to learn about ingredients, cooking techniques, beverages and how to set a perfect table. And that was how I ended up in hospitality school.
After the first half year in hospitality school you have to choose your direction for the following 3 years of education; to become either cook or waiter. Some of my teachers and classmates got quite surprised when I chose waiter, but I was sure about my decision. I enjoy cooking but I have always felt more drawn to the part of having directly contact with the guests. When I had to look for a restaurant to do my first practice I went searching outside the Danish boarders to be able to keep travelling. With a hint from a good friend I found out that Albert Adriá from elBullí was about to open a new place in Barcelona. I had always wanted to learn Spanish and working with an ex-chef of elBullí sounded like a dream to me. Unfortunately Albert wasn't as convinced as me about having an almost non-Spanish speaking waiter apprentice in his team. But with a few (read. quite a lot) insisting emails I finally convinced him about my idea. And that was how I ended up in Barcelona selected as one of the first team members for 41°.
After a year's practice in 41° I had to go back to Denmark to attend another school period followed by another period of practice in a restaurant. This time I stayed in Denmark and had the luck to take part of the team in a French restaurant called ET in my hometown Aarhus. The restaurant had an extensive French wine list and some very talented sommeliers working there. It was great to work with French cuisine and wines after a year with molecular food and cocktails in 41°. I really like Denmark, but after only half a year I started to miss life in Barcelona. I had still almost one and a half year left before my final waiter exam and it felt like ages to me. So I decided to speed up the process. I substituted the remaining practice and school time with an intense wine course, an extensive bartending course and some weeks practice with the amazing barista Søren Stiller Markussen. I was covering the expenses of my “self-designed education” by doing shifts in two different restaurants. One was the food-bar St. Pauls Apothek and the other CANblau a Spanish tapas restaurant by Jimmy Holm who has worked in both elBullí and El Celler de Can Roca.
After 6 months of self-designed front-of-the-house-education combined with two real paid jobs I felt ready to pull out my roots in Denmark and qualified to occupy one of the available waiter positions in Pakta, the Nikkei restaurant by Albert Adriá, which was just about to open in Barcelona. During 9 months I was back, giving my all to another of Albert Adriá’s restaurants. Working in Pakta not only taught me about Nikkei cuisine and became my introduction to my new favorite beverage sake but it also taught me more about myself.
It made me curious for more – to keep exploring the world of gastronomy and hospitality with all its possibilities and many ways to approach it.
During my work in the Adriá Projects I got to know Sebastian, with whom I today share my dreams about life. With Cooking in Motion we are realizing what we love and appreciate most; cooking, sharing and exploring the world around us.