For our summer issue photographer Manja Wachsmuthtravelled home to Denmark, and while there she visited Stedsans – a pop-up restaurant based out of a glasshouse in Copenhagen, which looks set to leave a legacy that will last much longer than its glass walls.
Mette Helbæk wanted to open a restaurant in a greenhouse ever since she first heard of Petersham Nurseries in England. When the first rooftop farm ØsterGRO opened in Copenhagen last year, Mette and her husband Flemming saw their chance. Setting up a pop-up greenhouse restaurant on this rooftop complemented the food they make – plant based, always in season and always local; it’s food that reflects the abundance and beauty of the lush, green surrounds. Stedsans is a place where people can sit and eat in the middle of a field, in the middle of the city, and be reminded of the fact that their food was living not too long ago. Life-giving and life-celebrating – what more can you ask of a meal?
What is the secret to Stedsans’ ‘just like home but better’ food? Most of our people aren’t trained chefs or waiters. We do ‘à la minute’ cooking, which means that we cook like you would at home. We don’t take prepped stuff out of our fridges and plate it – we make the food when the guests are seated because we want it to be as fresh as possible. That said, we have a professional sommelier on staff because we think it’s really important that food and wines match – but more than that, we find it important to have people in front-of-house positions who like to spread happiness and good energy to our guests. Several of our waiters are trained yoga instructors. They understand how easily energy spreads – both good and bad.
Can you talk us through a day at Stedsans? We don’t use a lot of the crops from the rooftop, because it operates as a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), where members pick up veges for their own use. So the day starts with unpacking the deliveries we get in straight from the biodynamic farms we work with. Then we set the greenhouse, arrange flowers, wash the veges and make vinaigrettes. But the main cooking is done when the guests are seated. The food comes in on large trays for the guests to send around the table to share – like you would do it at home. Only here you don’t necessarily know the person next to you, which isn’t typical for Danes. But after a few hours of eating and drinking wine together, hey, everyone’s your friend!
8 Tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
100g soft goat cheese
Fresh coriander flowers
Cut the strawberries into small pieces and place the pieces on a plate. Sprinkle with balsamic vinegar and black pepper. Crumble the goat cheese over the strawberries and top with rocket and coriander flowers.
Courgettes with Parmesan, almonds and basil
4 medium-sized courgettes
8 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
50g aged Parmesan cheese
Juice of ½ lemon
Basil leaves and nasturtium flowers for serving
1 tsp fine salt
Cut each courgette into four pieces lengthways and grill on high on a dry grill or frying pan for 5 minutes on each side until they’re done. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. They can be prepared beforehand – the courgettes don’t have to be warm, but it’s nice if they are.
Almonds: Set the oven at 200º Celsius. Wet the almonds and toss with the salt. Place them on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes until golden brown and crispy. Let the almonds cool down and chop them roughly.
Place the courgettes on a tray and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, almonds, lemon juice, basil and flowers.