FOTE 2020- Live Sessions April/May 2020

Week 4:   Niklas Ekstedt (Ekstedt) and Kristian Baumann (Restaurant 108)

Positive Mindsets and Reinventing Michelin Restaurants in a Pandemic

Niklas Ekstedt

Niklas Ekstedt
A visit to the Nordic region was the treat this week as FOTESPEAKS sessions visited Sweden and Norway. Sweden’s approach to Covid-19 has caused controversy as it did not go into full lockdown and according to the Niklas Ekstedt Swedes are like ‘lab rats’ and the country is experiencing the most attention since ABBA won the Eurovision! In relation to restaurants, they are allowed to open if there are less than 50 covers, maintain the recommended of 1.5 m for social distancing and limit the dining time for guests. Niklas is quite relaxed about how his business has changed. As a Michelin restaurant in the middle of a residential area, he no longer has tourist and business customers to rely on. Instead, he has found a new clientele, residents in his local community. Very quickly at the start of the crisis, he adapted his menu to a shorter 4-course tasting, for a cheaper price and has ongoing going communication and marketing initiative in the local media to engage this young clientele. This has been the recipe for his success at this time. He has gone from being a high-end restaurant where only foreigners go, to a local restaurant catering for Swedes.

Kristian Baumann (Restaurant 108)
“It feels great to be back, it makes me feel so much better, I feel at home in the restaurant, I realised how much I actually missed being here, being with the team and listening to music.” This gives you a sense of the optimism that emanates from Kristian Baumann. His ethos for the customer dining experience is to ‘create a vibrant restaurant where people can have fun and relax’. In the current climate, he also wants these customers to feel safe. Kristian has been working on a new dining concept over the last eight months, inspired by the dining traditions in Korean restaurants and temples. The tasting menu ($190) has been removed, the new tray concept is more affordable ($58) and more people can come out, celebrate and enjoy the food at the restaurant for less money.
JP shared his professional and business challenges in deciding on possible adaptions for his restaurant offering at ‘Aniar’. Juggling ‘what’s in your heart at well and be true to identity’ and ‘the possibility of having to flip the concept is hard’. Alongside this, he views Noma’s adaptation to a burger and wine offering as an important marker, giving confidence of flipping the opinion to ‘maybe we can change and still go back’. Juxtaposing this is the opinion- just do it, you need it to survive!

Kristian agreed and said “you should do what you feel like, if you do that, do what’s in your heart- that’s going to be great and it doesn’t matter what the format looks like. This is a unique opportunity to press, control, alt, delete and start over and be completely unapologetic to what you want to do and just go for it. We all have to embrace a new start, don’t look back just keep moving forward, submerge ourselves into cooking again. It’s very important now that we have a positive mindset. This will save us, as it will dictate how our mind is going to be as soon as you accept this you will move forward.”

In many ways, this chat exposed the care and camaraderie that FOTE creates among chefs. I’ve no doubt that this chat inspired the listeners. Kristian’s positivity, clarity of mind, care, love of cooking, team focus, and mindset is what positive kitchen culture should be about.