Trina Hahnemann is the Danish answer to our very own Delia Smith, who has risen to fame with her cookbook, The Nordic Diet. She spoke to Neil Gerrard about her career and a pop-up restaurant she will launch in London this year
Caterer How did you first come into catering?
Trina Hahnemann A lack of money. At first I was a waitress for many years and then I got the opportunity to go into the kitchen as a temp and I started from there. While I was still studying I bought my first catering company, which catered to the rock and roll and film industry. I thought I was going to do it temporarily just to make some money for my studies. But I never really got back to studies. I sold the company two years later and created the company I have today, which is called Hahnemann's Kitchen.
Caterer What is your day-to-day job now?
TH I run the business part-time. The rest of the time I travel around the world and talk about food, especially Scandinavian food. I also write cookbooks and newspaper columns.
Caterer What's The Nordic Diet about?
TH It is about showing a healthy everyday lifestyle where you live with the seasons and cook healthy food that is not too complicated, and cut down on the fat and meat. It has a Nordic take to it and is about how you make the diet in the northern hemisphere really healthy.
Caterer Where do you find your ideas?
TH They come from using ingredients with a modern twist, and taking out the more old-fashioned way of cooking and replacing it with another way of bringing out the flavours. The old traditional recipes were created for economic reasons, so you had to have heavy sauce to make you full and you couldn't eat as much meat. We don't have these same issues today. The emphasis is also on not boiling the vegetables to pieces but trying to have some crunchiness and thinking about the flavours, not disguising them.
Caterer Tell us about the pop-up restaurant you will be launching in London
TH We are planning to run a pop-up restaurant for approximately 10 days in November and December, where we will do a modern version of the smörgåsbord. It will include open sandwiches with home-baked rye bread with all kinds of toppings, and some Danish cheeses. Then there will be an afternoon tea with traditional glühwein and Swedish cinnammon rolls. And for dinner there will be a four-course menu with soup and fish, plus a main course and a pudding. It will all be what is in season in November and it will be modern Scandinavian home cooking. It won't be like Noma, that's a Michelin-star style and that's not what I am about. I'm about food you can cook at home.
Caterer How will you staff the restaurant?
TH I will be bringing a team of female chefs who I work with in Copenhagen over, as well as my mother and my sister, who part-owns Feng Sushi in London. We will do a little deli as well and sell Christmas specialities like jams and vinegars that we have produced in the summer.