Henry Stevens is restaurant manager and beverage director at Amass restaurant in Copenhagen. He talks to Katherine Alano
What was your route into hospitality?
I started working in pubs around the Oxfordshire area and was very lucky to work for some great managers who really instilled in me the importance of the guest experience. This definitely spurred my interest in the industry. After doing that for three years or so, I started to build on my interest in wine, which led me to a trial shift at the two-Michelin-starred Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons in 2013.
Director of wines Arnaud Goubet taught me how to be respectful and humble when it comes to service, especially in relation to wine. I learned how little details can truly affect a guest's experience for better and for worse in the restaurant.
You've been at Amass restaurant in Copenhagen for three years now. What attracted you to the restaurant?
At first it was mostly what I saw on social media. What the opening team at Amass were building looked unique and original, from the food to the ethos and the space. The perfect balance between high quality and personable, relaxed service really engaged me.
How did you get the job?
After eating at Amass, I did a short stage in October 2014 and was offered the job there by the former restaurant manager Bo Bratlann.
Tell us more about the food and concept of Amass
The restaurant is located in a former shipyard building just outside Copenhagen and was opened by Matt Orlando in 2013, a San Diego native, who had previously been head chef at Noma. We offer set menus that focus heavily on seasonality and sustainability, utilising one acre or so of land outside of the restaurant to create a garden that can provide us with daily produce for the menu.
How does hospitality differ in Copenhagen to the UK?
Each restaurant in Copenhagen has a different approach to hospitality, but there is quite often an underlying, personable touch to the service. A lot of my peers and colleagues within the city work in a very humble and conscientious way. It's always inspiring to watch.
Copenhagen has a great food scene - what makes it so special?
There is definitely a group of restaurants in Copenhagen that have opened in the past 15 years or so that have paved a way for more open-minded ways of running a business. There aren't really any limits to what you can do creatively in dining here, which brings a special energy to the city.
Is there anywhere else in the world you'd like to work?
Of course, somewhere with a much shorter winter! But for now Denmark is ticking all the boxes.
Do you have any advice for anyone thinking about working abroad?
Immerse yourself as much as possible in the environment in which you're living. Explore the city and the surrounding areas. Even though it can be difficult to juggle the downtime, integrating with the local area and people will elevate your experience.
Is there anything you miss about living and working in the UK?
Mostly the UK countryside. I try and visit London a few times a year - it really feels like there's a new energy in the city, with more casual and accessible places opening up. When I see this, I miss it a little more.
Are there other Brits at Amass?
There are two Scots working in the front of house, while in the kitchen there are three Brits.
How has working abroad enhanced your career?
A huge amount. It's definitely made me more open to new experiences, new ideas and new points of view. It's really motivating because I moved away for a change, so it's down to me to implement that change.
2015-2018 Assistant restaurant manager and sommelier, Restaurant Amass, Copenhagen, Denmark
2013-2015 - Assistant sommelier, Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons, Oxfordshire
2011-2013 Deputy manager, the Fat Fox Inn, Watlington, Oxfordshire
2008-2011 Waiter, the Crown Inn, Pishill, Oxfordshire
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