Bo Bech has gathered his servants in a circle. Some have experience from star places such as Alchemist, Jordnær and Noma, others are as green as brussels sprouts, the guests are served less than an hour later, so they can share them on Instagram.
Enthusiastically and rigorously, the menu is reviewed by reading aloud in shifts, so everyone knows what will soon come out of the kitchen. Scallop gratin with miso and buttermilk (NOK 140). Picked pocket crab with omelette and piment d’espelette (“piment d’esPELET’,” corrects Bo one of the servants, who still has more talent than routine) (175 kroner). Steamed lobster with habanero and butter whey (NOK 450).
“Does anyone know what whey is?” Bo Bech asks the closed assembly with the patience of a primary school teacher. There are lots of wrong answers, but no condemnation, and if you are looking for the harsh tone, which some of the city’s kitchens are notorious for having, you go here in vain. The atmosphere is equal parts entrepreneurial and full of the kind of community that only something new can bring.
Bo Bech explains what butter whey is and how it is produced, and everyone nods in time. The joy of anticipation outshines everything, and tonight a fully booked restaurant will once again be allowed to taste the food from a man, with whom many have an almost idolized relationship. Yesterday, the place was full of fellow chefs, gastro fans and reviewers from the major daily newspapers, who were keen on the unwritten rule of never reviewing on the opening day. The cultural capital in being first with the last, when it comes to Bo Bech, is weighty.
As a football star on a free transfer, Bo Bech has in recent years found himself in a restaurant limbo, where no kitchen has been his. It has not made sense: Bo Bech is a chef’s chef, one of those who can both cook and think, and his abilities are too monumental to only make private parties for people with big wallets.
Therefore, there was great joy in the industry when Bo Bech announced earlier in the year that his return would take place. Fast forward a couple of months and a thorough building process, and Bo Bech has just opened the doors to Restaurant Bobe on Gråbrødre Torv in the premises where Copenhageners and tourists have over time eaten smørrebrød and other classics at Peder Oxe.
“Hello, my name is Bo Bech, welcome to Restaurant Bobe at Gråbrødre Torv,” he begins with an almost media-trained confidence to my camera colleague, who is there to film. The restaurant’s focus will be on green food, he continues, looking into the camera and predicting that the dish with Brussels sprouts with dates and blue mold (NOK 115) will be a bestseller. If you want meat, you can also get fish, shellfish and game, he adds.
The premises are extremely beautiful, refurbished by the forward-looking architectural duo Atelier Axo consisting of Caroline Sillesen and Rose Hermansen. The load-bearing elements are protected. Medieval Copenhagen meets open hearth meets cry-in-crime meets joinery wooden furniture with such a large distance between the tables that any chain restaurateur with complete control over kitchen percentages must have gray hairs over the many free square meters of bare floor space. Here, it is international and domestic at the same time. If November always looked like this, there would have to be five in a calendar year. Bo Bech’s sense of creating more than food is more than intact.
From the corner of the farthest place in the kitchen facing the restaurant, Bo Bech takes up position next to two tall candles and a giant bouquet of chrysanthemums. From here, he will send dishes across the counter to diners at the restaurant, which he has spent years devising. From here his world goes now.
And those who want to be a part of that world will be fine:
“Bob is for those who want to have a nice evening. Those who may suffer, who are down-to-earth, but who also want to be teased a little. We want to put the food on the plate with a little twinkle in our eye. We are not trying to invent anything. I don’t even have the brain or imagination for that,” he lies.
It is 5.30pm, and November-cold Copenhageners with theater tickets later in the evening arrive for the early reservation in the warm living rooms. What is the moment Bo Bech has been waiting for? What has he been looking forward to the most?
“If you imagine that you close your eyes. When you listen. Hear the noise. Hear the bumble bee,” says Bo Bech with a punctuated staccato rhythm that could make a radical top politician envious.
“That sum of people, there lives. And then you open your eyes and look, and they are sitting inside your restaurant. Then you have a good time. That’s what I want. That’s it, a performer, who goes on stage, enjoys repeating. That moment.”
The huge Molteni stoves hum. Now is now. Everything is backed up.
The first bonus arrives. The second evening of Bo Bech’s new life has begun.