Publiceret den 12. april 2021
The Relæ Future?
Many have asked me: “What is going to happen with Relæ?”
When I made the crucial decision of closing the Jægersborggade chapter I had little in mind about what would be the future of that space. While most would expect me to be nostalgic about the space, the tables, the kitchen etc. I am honestly not as attached to the physical space as you would think. The story of that place is a part of me, as it has come to be a part of many others set of memories, formation and professional experience. My countless memories are worth much more than the tables and chairs.
Given the time for reflection that 2020 has offered, I have put a lot of thought into what should be the future of that physical, and let’s just say, philosophical, space. Relæ was rather different than most restaurants and we managed to make it a financial and gastronomical success since the very beginning. Something that seems to be almost impossible for most top tier restaurants. With time the Relæ model became a well oiled machine and while the creative work kept on receiving accolades, the framework behind it became more and more solidified and rewarding. The drawers in the tables, the small space, the limited front of house staff, the no-nonsense approach stayed the same, while what was on the plate varied and developed with time.
It seems to be in the DNA of gastronomy that once you get good within your limitations the first thing you want to do is to get rid of those constraints. You hire more staff, get bigger tables, even lower the max number of covers. I believe a big part of the continuous success of relæ also was based on our way of keeping up the limitations. I was always reluctant to add more front of house staff. I felt the busy buzz made the experience better and adding more staff that has more time would just….cost everyone more. Having more time at the table can for most cases just add more water pouring, table-crumbing and uninterested “how is it going”s from staff trying to stay occupied. Keeping things cut to the bone was a big challenge the last couple of years, as it seemed counterintuitive for most.
Strangely I find that while the success of making a small, cut to the bone, no-nonsense restaurant in a basement is evident, most new restaurant openings seem to go into a very different direction. Grandiose opulence, high-level price tags, highly manipulated gastronomy, many servers at the table is still what many young guns dream of out there. That trend has not changed, rather the opposite, it has grown. A quest for freedom starts with humble beginnings, if you ask me at least.
Could this create space for a new chapter of the Relæ model?
I am wondering if the space and its limitations, the mental model behind the success, and the base philosophy behind not only could, but also should, help shape the next generation.
Considering the uncertain 20’s we are facing, I believe that the system behind a 10 year long gastronomic and financial success born in the last financial crisis is more relevant than ever. We are therefore drawing up the framework to make relæ pass the relay to the next generation. We are looking at a setup where a young, ambitious and driven chef that wants to take the crucial step into restaurateur-ship should have a 3 months residency with us at relæ with total creative freedom, to make the dream a reality.
Are you ready for that challenge?