A Rooftop Farm Restaurant in Copenhagen

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Owned by food writer Mette Helbæk and chef Flemming Schiøtt Hansen, their mission is to serve food that is “clean, simple and local”. Stedsans, which refers to the idea of ‘a sense of place’ in Danish, has a menu that focuses on plants and vegetables from organic farmers in the region. While the menu changes every week, the five courses are always served ‘family-style’ at a large communal table. Guests sit quite close to each other to share both food and stories in a cozy setting the Danes call ‘hyggelig’. Not only that, the restaurant also makes sustainability a priority. There is a bee farm, chicken coop and a self-built wooden kitchen.

The restaurant only opened early this summer and already has a long waiting list. We accompanied Helbæk to see what it’s like to prepare dinner at the whimsical rooftop restaurant and chatted about the restaurant’s sudden success as well as how appreciating good food can bring people closer to nature.

How did you come up with the idea for Stedsans?

Mette Helbæk: The garden started as community-supported agriculture, where members pay for the food being produced, and was founded one year ago by Kristian Skaarup and Liva Haaland. At the beginning of the season, locals pay the farmers to plant and buy seeds as well as the gardeners to take care of this place. Then people come here to pick up the boxes full of vegetables and took them home to make something nice out of it in their own kitchens – that’s what the farmers called ‘ØsterGRO’. We rented this space and use it as our restaurant ‘Stedsans’ from Thursday to Sunday every week during the season, which is from May to October. And we just started out this year, so the farm is one year older than the restaurant.

Back then, we had another place where we were having big parties and also had a small restaurant, which was only open once a week but is now closed. But we already knew these people and we had been talking about a place like this forever. Flemming wanted to have his own urban garden, I wanted to have a restaurant in a greenhouse ever since I first saw and heard about Petersham Nurseries near London. As a food writer, I’m always working with vegetables, writing cookbooks and magazine articles about everything Nordic and that has to do with vegetables. I like life, I like plants and I like what nature does when it works its magic. I like noticing it and presenting it to people and I like when people become aware of what’s happening in the soil.

So the people from ØsterGRO asked us to do the opening reception and we did some dinners up here in 2014. Then suddenly, we lost the contract for the place we had before and had no restaurant anymore. We had nowhere to work our magic. So we were like, ‘What now?’ We went to talk to the people here and they were like, ‘Yeah, sure, let’s open up a restaurant!’ and a few months later, we opened. Since day three, we’ve been completely booked.

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