“The most interesting place in Europe to eat” – that’s how Noma’s René Redzepi described Bo Bech’s first restaurant, Paustian. The Copenhagen venue was located in the last building Jørn Utzon ever designed – and the Sydney Opera House architect was one of Bech’s regular diners. (You need to hear the story behind the dish that Bech created for Utzon, which the chef talks about near the end of the podcast.)
Bech became a chef at a relatively late age – enduring terrible food during a peacekeeping mission inspired him to improve on what was available. “When I stepped into the kitchen at the age of 24, my world flipped.” To convince a bank manager to loan him the money to launch Paustian, he had to revert to some pretty unusual means (it did involve food, though).
Paustian is the focus of Bech’s first self-published book, What Does Memory Taste Like (which features a signature avocado dish that gets 80-something pages of coverage). His second restaurant, Geist, is more accessible in style – the type of place that’s “at eye height”, a place where Bech would could imagine being a frequent customer. It’s covered in In My Blood, his new book, which is like an autobiography of the restaurant. It features architect’s drawings and furniture sketches among 100 recipes from Geist itself. The book also covers rage and other inspirations behind his food (like his lifelong battles against endives and salmon).
We also chat about his recent dinner collaboration with Lennox Hastie and his favourite places to eat in Copenhagen.
You can find In My Blood at chefbobech.com.
You can listen to this episode on Apple Podcasts or download it via RSS or directly. You can also find it on Stitcher and Google Podcasts nowadays. And cheers to everyone who has left a kind review in Apple Podcasts or even told me in person that they like the podcast. Shout out to Niklas Harmsen of the excellent Slurp Ramen – I discovered after visiting his ramen joint that he somehow listens to this podcast (I don’t know how he even knows about the show from Copenhagen)!
Photography courtesy of Bo Bech, from In My Blood.