Acclaimed chef Danyel Couet opened not one, but two, new Stockholm restaurants in April. The idea is to establish a mini-Paris in Vasastan. Over the years, Danyel has had a hand in over 20 restaurant openings, often together with Melker Andersson. This time, he’s doing it on his own.
What’s attractive about opening new restaurants?
I get a buzz from it. I see myself as very creative and I need an outlet for that. Otherwise I would break. I don’t know if I could say that I like starting a lot of restaurants, but it has just turned out to be a substantial number. It probably depends on seeing things that are missing. All the restaurants I have opened are places I would like to go myself, but I hadn’t opened my dream restaurant. That’s what I plan to do now.
Where do you find your inspiration?
That depends on what restaurant we are talking about, but when it comes to this I found the inspiration within myself. It’s very personal in everything from the food to the atmosphere, to the interiors and the service. Everything comes from the inside, that’s when it turns out the best.
In what way do you work differently here than you did before?
I have experience from working in France for many years and at other starred restaurants. I’m the type of chef that likes to tinker. Here we will see food at a very high level. In a kitchen at a Michelin-starred restaurant there’s such a hierarchy, it’s bordering on hazing. Especially in France. In Sweden we’re a bit smarter than that, thankfully. I don’t want that. I have handpicked a team that is absolutely magic in this kitchen. Everyone is good at different things. We’ve talked about that a lot, that it’s supposed to be on equal terms here. Everyone I have employed are very confident in themselves which is a great foundation. I have worked for a long time in this business so I don’t feel any need to prove to anyone that I can cook, because I know that I can. And the rest of the team are the same. There are no rookies here, everyone has worked for a long time and at really good restaurants. If you erase the hierarchy and focus on the fact that everyone is good at different things, then I think it becomes dynamic and progressive. I get energy from people who are passionate about their job. That’s like fuel to me.
How does it feel to do this without Melker Andersson?
We’ve been working side by side for 24 years, and talk a lot. He’s just opened up a new place in Uppsala and we give each other advice. It’s obvious that it feels different. I’m used to coming to work and seeing him there. But considering that I have opened my personal dream restaurant it feels more natural to do it alone. This time I have Sebastian Thureson by my side. He has an abundance of energy and a strong creative vein so we learn from each other. But it’s a bit different from working with Melker.
How does your dream restaurant differ from other restaurants?
That’s up to our visitors to say. I’ve opened two places. It’s lively and ebullient, both in the bar and in the restaurant. The guests may laugh or talk a little too loud and have a little too much fun. It should be extremely accessible and you should feel like you could pop in without dressing up. And it’s all down to egotistical reasons. I want to feel good in my own premises. The idea is to create a little bit of Paris here with the bar across the street from the restaurant. A square with a lot of life and outdoor terraces all year round. This will be a food square in the end.
For those that haven’t been, what’s on your menu?
In the bar we have a lot of charcuteries. Swedish, Italian, French and Spanish. Venison, and smaller genuinely French dishes. At the restaurant we serve French dishes in our own interpretations.
What’s your general opinion on Stockholm’s restaurant scene?
It’s good. But we have lacked what I’m doing now. This type of thing doesn’t really exist in Sweden.