Who are we kidding, it sounds like an absolute dream and happens to be the daily grind of August Lund, the London-based owner of Cofoco, a leading Danish restaurant group.
Ever since leaving the banking trade for the culinary world August Lund has logged in hundreds of thousands of air miles, he’s slept in countless of hotels and dined high and low, far and away. All in search of inspiration, knowledge and that truly great restaurant experience that leaves an everlasting mark.
We met up with the culinary entrepreneur for a talk on food and design.
Today’s scene is Höst, recently voted the world’s best designed restaurant, and with additional design awards on the shelf and packed tables a place that is quickly establishing itself as a go-to destination for both Copenhagen locals and an increasing International crowd of style-conscious “foodies”.
says August Lund and continues, “it is an experience for all senses – and that’s something that is paramount to Cofoco. Décor, service, ambiance, prices, music – everything is aligned. Everything leads to one thing: A fulfilling experience for our guests.”
Take Restaurant Höst for example, with its stylish and retro-cool Scandinavian interior and new no-nonsense Nordic/French cuisine. It’s the kind of place that epitomizes the Danish expression “hygge”.
“Hygge” is somewhat hard to explain but it’s a mixture of cosiness, relaxation, chilling out, nesting and plain old good times. Höst has all of that in spades. Once you enter you feel at ease and home, the Scandinavian way. It opens its arms, embracing you with charm, atmosphere and unpretentious food and service.
says August Lund while reflecting on his travel habits.
“Whether it be hotels or restaurants, you oftentimes steer towards the uncomplicated. The place that just works – and gives you great quality and service combined with friendliness.”
If you transform that urge for something familiar yet fresh and surprising into an ethos, you’re pretty close to describing what August Lund and his business partner Torben Klitbo are instilling in their many restaurants and take-away’s all over Copenhagen. They’re giving them soul.
“When I go back to Copenhagen, I simply love going into Oysters & Grill (another Cofoco restaurant) on the first day,” says August Lund as we discuss Copenhagen, “it instantly gets me into the local spirit. It’s for everybody, it’s relaxed and the food is great – actually everything what Copenhagen is about.”
A love for Danish design
Both his parents are architects, and it’s clear to anyone who meets him that August Lund has been smitten with the architect bug growing up.
“I was raised with the Danish design classics; Finn Juhl, Børge Mogensen, Bang & Olufsen – and my grandfather Erik Ole Jørgensen, who designed EJ315 (a Danish design classic). And I feel that it’s important that our Scandinavian design heritage is somehow reflected in our restaurants,” says August Lund, who’s watching his movies on a BeoVision 12 television, comfortably seated in a Arne Jacobsen sofa.
He goes on to tell about his partnerships with architect studios BIG, Norm and Kilo, his involvement in a design store that sells hand crafted goods from all over the world – and joint projects with Danish design companies &Tradition, Menu and Hay.
“Both Höst and our Mexican restaurant Llama are great examples of what we’re trying to do in terms of design: Teaming up with local architect studios and implementing Danish design in the overall context of the restaurants,” says August Lund while fidgeting around with his BeoPlay H8s. He confides that he almost never travels anywhere without his active noise cancellation headphones “because once you’ve tried, you don’t go back”.
He pauses for a second and continues:
“What is fascinating about restaurant design are the different aspects you have to address and combine. A fulfilling design experience requires more than just good looks; it also takes products that are useful and intuitive – and that triggers me – finding the right partners to solve those questions and bring experiences to people.”
TIPS FOR FOODIES
If you’re travelling to the UK or US here are a couple of tips from August...
My favourite spot has to be Cambio de Tercio. My good friend, Abel Lusa, owns it and it’s located just around the corner from my flat in South Kensington. Its a modern take on Spanish tapas with high quality simple dishes such as pata negra, chilled Andulucian gazpacho, stone sea bass ceviche as well as more advanced cooking.
There’s always a great warm vibe there, there are beautiful colourful paintings and lots of hungry people. And, as a testament to Abel’s success he has opened 2 more tapas bars within 50 meters! Abel is also a good friend of tennis super star Rafael Nadal, so you can be sure to spot him there during Wimbledon.
New York always seems to have the biggest rotation of any city when it’s comes to getting fed, so naming my favourite is hard since many have disappeared and new ones keeps popping up.
I studied briefly in New York in 2001 – and I’ve been coming there 3 to 4 times per year ever since. I always make sure I pay a visit to the best Mexican restaurants such as Empellon, and the smaller fast food joints for a fresh Burrito.
If I’m in the mood for modern American cousine, I go to Saxon + Parole in NOHO, a very designed, 19th century colonial kind of place designed by AvroKO. They’ve got great food and heavy cocktails with focus on Sazerac and gin.