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LONG TIME NO SEE

When you write about start-ups, things can change quickly. Thus, many of the people portrayed in my book HÅNDVÆRK from 2018 have long since moved on to new projects. That is also true of Jesper Gøtz, whom I visited at Lille Bakery on the small Copenhagen island Refshaleøen in 2018, when the bakery had just opened its doors.

May 2019

Jesper Gøtz is no longer involved in Lille Bakery but is active in his own enterprise here.

Here is the story about Jesper and Lille from HÅNDVÆRK:

Jesper is a cook. His interest in the restaurant universe arose in his early teens when he worked as a dishwasher and later as a kitchen assistant in a ‘nice, down-to-earth’ restaurant, as he describes it, near Furesøen lake, the area where he grew up. When he took a gap year after upper secondary school, he wanted to work in the restaurant business. Jesper knew where he wanted to work and with whom, but they told him they would only take him in if he signed on as an apprentice chef. To be able to join the team he had his eyes on, he signed up to become a chef without really considering how that would impact his future.

Jesper was talented, and in a business that has had the wind in its sails for the past decade, the talents are picked up while they are fresh. Thus, Jesper’s career was on track before he had completed his training. He worked in the leading Copenhagen restaurants 1.th and noma before becoming a sous chef at noma’s ‘little brother’, Restaurant 108, at the age of 25. Among his many responsibilities at 108, he developed the restaurant’s bread.

The job at 108 was exhilarating, challenging, prestigious and somewhat stressful. This was where he was working when he realized, while on holiday, that maybe he was cut out for a different kind of working life.

As we talked over a cup of coffee in the café, I asked Jesper, ‘What are your interests, apart from your profession? He replied that, even though it might sound strange, his main interest is what he does and immersing himself in that: baking, cooking, hospitality. I don’t think that sounds strange. Rather, it sounds like the recipe for a lifestyle driven by passion and as a description of someone who has found their path or is at least well on their way to doing so. After a pause, Jesper adds that he enjoys being in nature and that he is also interested in self-development, reflection, checking in with himself and personal growth. He also meditates.

It was this desire to continually check in with himself that sent him on a well-earned holiday to Thailand in early 2017. During this trip, as he was gazing out over the sea, he asked himself, What should my next step be? What do I really want to be doing? And in what form? The answer, which had been whispering in his ear for sometime, was that he wanted to focus on baking sourdough bread and opening his own business. Thus, Jesper returned from his holiday with a plan that involved quitting his job and finding a new one where he could learn more about baking. Two weeks after his return, he resigned, and three weeks later, he had arranged a traineeship with Lars Batting, who runs a small sourdough bakery north of Copenhagen based on the same principles Jesper adheres to: good craftsmanship, locally sourced ingredients and a small range of high-quality products. ‘Lars’s sense of quality and, in particular, his sense of bread had a pivotal influence on me,’ says Jesper, who, concurrently with his traineeship in Batting’s bakery, took on a job as a sous chef and chef for Frederik Bille Brahe, who was getting ready to open Apollo Bar at the art centre Kunsthal Charlottenborg in Copenhagen. Jesper took this job on one condition: that he got to do all the baking he wanted. At Apollo Bar, Jesper continued to work with sourdough and to refine his bread skills. All the while, his own project was taking shape in his mind. 

Kickstarting a company  

I shadowed Jesper Gøtz for the better part of a working day at Lille Bakery. I looked over his shoulder at the bakery and took photos while we chatted about sourdough. My inner flower child feels right at home at Lille Bakery, and the bread is really tasty! The combined bakery and café is located at the tip of Refshaleøen in the Copenhagen Harbour in a former B&W shipyard building. Jesper is part of the trio behind Lille Bakery. They all three have backgrounds from leading enterprises in the international culinary scene – an environment that trains precision, dedication and endurance from the moment people step in the door. That training shows. Although Lille Bakery has a very hippie-happy atmosphere, nothing is left to chance, and no product ever makes it to the customer unless it is 100% on target.

Right from the outset, Jesper was planning to open the new place in cooperation with Sara and Mia, whom he had worked with at Restaurant 108.

We wanted to establish a local bakery and restaurant somewhere in Copenhagen, in a space that could also accommodate long-table dinners and events. We wanted to steer clear of the traditional type of investors, who discuss profit and turnover before they talk about content, and we wanted to make bread and food based on locally sourced ingredients at reasonable prices. We wanted to work hands-on with dough and food, and we wanted to personally be involved in customer service. We did not want to have that designed or conceptual look – although, of course, that too is a sort of concept,’ says Jesper with a smile. 

At an early stage in the process, Sara and Jesper went on a research trip to California, and that is where the vision found its final shape. In California, there are many craft-based businesses, which provided frames of reference with regard to both content and business model. Inspired by a friend, they decided to try to raise the necessary venture capital via the Kickstarter funding platform.

Back in Copenhagen, they found a location on Refshaleøen and posted the Lille Bakery project on Kickstarter to invite friends, family and acquaintances from the culinary business to invest and become part of the circle around the new enterprise. ‘Together, we have a large network, and social media let us spread the message very quickly,’ says Jesper. The idea sparked widespread support; in just 24 hours, the campaign raised the 140,000 kroner it was seeking to buy an oven and a mixer. After the target had been reached, the funding kept pouring in. They shut down the campaign when 187 backers had pledged a total of 219,398 kroner. It’s amazing that we reached our financial target,’ says Jesper. But the best part is that we started out with at least 187 ambassadors who believe in us, who wish us the best and who helped spread the happy message of Lille Bakery. It’s safe for them to do so, we are great! We are even better than I dared hope.

Jesper, Sara and Mia spend many hours side by side at work every day. When they work, they are like a single organism. Everyone is doing something, all the time: kneading, baking, chopping, slicing, filtering, buttering and talking to the customers, who are enthusiastic in their response. Behind the scenes, however, they have clear agreements about who is responsible for what and who can veto what. That is necessary for the project to work. ‘We are good at raising each other up,’ says Jesper, ‘and for my part, I’m not particularly stubborn. We agree about the main aspects, and if Sara and Mia want to do something I’m not completely on board with, they have two votes to my one, so it’s their call. That is why we have coloured plates and not white ones, for example!

The concept is straightforward and easy to grasp. You can buy one type of wheat bread, one type of rolls, one type of rye bread. The selection varies from one week to the next. They also make traditional Australian puff pastry rolls with vegetable or meat, and they make doughnuts. The main focus in the restaurant is on greens, fish and shellfish. The place is open from morning to late afternoon. The menu changes from time to time, but they keep it simple. Drinks include good filter coffee or homemade cold drinks, including kombucha, ice tea, gooseberry soda and rhubarb soda. Sometimes, Lille Bakery is open in the evening for informal long-table dinners that people book and pay in advance. The food is good and tasty, servings are generous, and naturally the ingredients are locally sourced. 

Lille Bakery was still in its early days when I visited. At the time, Jesper, Mia and Sara were all working 14–18-hour days 6–7 days a week. That is not supposed to continue, no one can do that in the long run. They have a clear plan to reduce their hours, they explain, first bringing their daily hours down to 10 and having at least one full day off every week. However, one thing is not going to change, Jesper underscores: ‘I have to continue to be the one who makes the bread. Otherwise, the whole project changes. I love the immersion in the process, and I love getting up early and getting started while everything is quiet.’ Then he adds, ‘At least, that’s how I feel now. Five years from now, maybe I don’t want to make bread anymore, who knows?

 

 

Når man skriver om unge virksomheder, ændrer virkeligheden sig hurtigt. Derfor er mange af dem jeg skrev om i bogen HÅNDVÆRK i 2018, for længst i gang med nye projekter, således også Jesper Gøtz som jeg i 2018 besøgte i Lille Bakery på Refshaleøen. Den gang havde bageriet netop slået dørene op.

Jesper Gøtz er ikke længere involveret i Lille Bakery men er aktiv i eget regi her.

Du får her afsnittet fra HÅNDVÆRK om Jesper og Lille:

Jesper er kok. Hans interesse for restaurationsmiljøet blev vakt, da han som stor skoledreng først var opvasker og siden køkkenmedarbejder på en, som han selv udtrykker det, ”helt stille og rolig” restaurant i området omkring Furesøen, hvor han er vokset op. Efter gymnasietiden da han skulle have sabbatår, føltes det derfor oplagt at søge i restaurationsbranchen. Jesper vidste, hvor han gerne ville arbejde, og hvem han gerne ville arbejde sammen med, men fik den besked, at de kun havde plads til ham, hvis han ville gå i lære som kok. For at blive en del af det team, indskrev han sig som kokkeelev uden at have gjort sig de store tanker om, hvad det ville indebære for hans fremtid.

Jesper havde talent, og i en branche, som de seneste 10 år har haft vinden i ryggen, bliver talenterne plukket dugfriske. Således var Jespers karriere skudt i gang, allerede inden han var færdiguddannet, og han nåede at arbejde på både 1.th og på Noma, inden han som 25-årig blev hentet til Nomas lillebror Restaurant 108 som souschef. Blandt mange andre opgaver dér, udviklede han også 108’s brød.

Jobbet på 108 var spændende, udviklende, ærefuldt og noget stressende. Det var her, han arbejdede, da det på en ferie gik op for ham, at han måske egentlig var skabt til at vinkle sit arbejdsliv lidt anderledes.

Jeg spurgte Jesper, da vi talte sammen over en kop kaffe i cafeen: ”Hvad interesserer du dig for udover dit fag”? Han svarede, at det måske lød lidt mærkeligt men, at han egentlig mest interesserer sig for det, han laver og for at være til stede i det. Det vil sige at: bage, lave mad og have gæster. Det synes jeg nu ikke lyder særlig mærkeligt, bare som opskriften på en passioneret livsstil og som beskrivelsen af et menneske, der har fundet sin vej, eller som i hvert fald er på vej. Jesper tilføjer efter lidt betænkningstid, at han godt kan lide at være i naturen, og at han faktisk også interesserer sig for at arbejde med sig selv, for at tænke sig om, for at mærke efter og for at være i udvikling, og så mediterer han.

Interessen for at mærke efter var den, som i begyndelsen af 2017 sendte ham på en tiltrængt ferie til Thailand og dér med udsigt ud over havet stillede han sig selv spørgsmålene: Hvad skal mit næste skridt være? Hvad vil jeg helst beskæftige mig med? Og under hvilken form? Svaret, som havde hvisket i vinden i nogen tid, var, at han ville fordybe sig i at bage surdejsbrød og åbne sit eget sted. Jesper kom derfor fra ferien med en plan, som indebar at opsige sit job og finde et nyt job, hvor han kunne blive dygtigere til at bage. Jobbet sagde han op efter 14 dage, og tre uger efter havde han fået praktikjob hos Lars Batting, som driver et lille surdejsbageri nord for København efter de principper, Jesper hylder: Godt håndværk, lokale råvarer og få men gode produkter. ”Lars´ fornemmelse for kvalitet og i særdeleshed for brød har været banebrydende for mig”, fortæller Jesper, som sideløbende med praktikken hos Batting påtog sig et job som souschef og køkkenchef hos Frederik Bille Brahe, der var i gang med at åbne Apollo Bar på Charlottenborg. Jesper takkede ja til det job på én betingelse: At han måtte bage alt, hvad han have lyst tilog det måtte han! På Apollo Bar fortsatte Jesper sit arbejde med surdejen og med at forfine sit brød, alt mens hans eget projekt tog form

.

At kickstarte sin virksomhed

Jeg fulgte i hælene på Jesper Gøtz det meste af en arbejdsdag i Lille Bakery. Jeg så ham over skulderen i bageriet og fotograferede, mens vi småsludrede om surdejen. Mit indre blomsterbarn føler sig hjemme i Lille Bakery, og brødet smager virkelig godt! Bageriet og caféen ligger langt ude på Refshaleøen i Københavns havn i en bygning, som tidligere har tilhørt B&W. Jesper er den ene af trekløveret bag Lille Bakery. De har alle tre baggrund i den tunge ende af den internationale madscene. Et miljø hvor man træner præcision, dedikation og udholdenhed fra det øjeblik man træder ind ad døren. Det kan mærkes. Selvom rammerne omkring Lille Bakery er hippie happy, så er intet overladt til tilfældighederne, og intet produkt kommer over disken, hvis ikke det står 100% skarpt.

Det var hele tiden planen, at det nye sted skulle åbnes i samarbejde med Sara og Mia som Jesper havde arbejdet sammen med på Restaurant 108.

”Vi ville lave et lokalt bageri og en restaurant et sted i København i et lokale, som desuden kunne rumme langbordsmiddage og events. Vi ville undgå den traditionelle type af investorer, som taler om profit og omsætning, før de taler om indhold, og så ville vi lave brød og mad af lokale råvarer til en rimelig pris. Vi vil selv have hænderne i dejen og maden, og vi vil selv være dem, som yder service til kunderne. Vi havde ikke lyst til at se så designede og konceptuelle ud, selvom det selvfølgelig også er en slags koncept ”siger Jesper med et glimt i øjet.

Sara og Jesper tog tidligt i processen på en studietur til Californien, og det var der formen endegyldigt faldt på plads. I Californien er der mange, som laver denne type af håndværksvirksomheder og dermed mange at spejle sig i både i forhold til det indholdsmæssige og i forhold til forretningsmodellen. Inspireret af en god ven besluttede de at forsøge at rejse det nødvendige kapitaltilskud på Kick Starter.

Tilbage i København fandt de et lejemål på Refshaleøen og søsatte Lille Bakery på Kickstarter for at lade venner, familie og branchebekendtskaber få muligheden for at støtte økonomisk og blive en del af kredsen omkring det nye sted. ”Vores samlede netværk er stort, og sociale medier giver mulighed for en hurtig spredning af budskabet”, fortæller Jesper. Opbakningen var til at få øje på, på et døgn nåede kampagnen i mål med de 140.000 kroner, de havde bedt om til indkøb af ovn og røremaskine, og derefter fortsatte støtten med at strømme ind. De lukkede deres indsamling ned, da 187 mennesker havde støttet med sammenlagt 219.398 kroner. ”Det er helt fantastisk, at vi kom i mål økonomisk” siger Jesper,” men det bedste er, at vi kom fra start med mindst 187 ambassadører, som tror på os, vil os alt det bedste, og som deler det glade budskab om Lille Bakery. Det kan de roligt gøre, vi er gode! Vi er endda bedre, end jeg havde turde håbe på”.

Jesper, Sara og Mia arbejder sammen mange timer om dagen. De er som en organisme, når de er i gang. Alle laver de noget hele tiden, der æltes, bages, hakkes, snittes, filtreres, smøres madder og der bliver snakket med kunderne, som kvitterer med begejstring. Bag kulisserne derimod er der tydelige aftaler om hvem, som har ansvar for hvad, og om hvem der har vetoret på hvad. Det er nødvendigt, hvis det skal køre. ”Vi er gode til at løfte hinanden”, siger Jesper, ”og for min del er jeg ikke specielt stædig, hovedtrækkene er vi enige om, og hvis Sara og Mia vil noget, jeg ikke som udgangspunkt er enig i, så er de to mod en, og så bestemmer de, derfor har vi f.eks. farvede tallerkener og ikke hvide!”

Konceptet er ukompliceret og til at forstå. Man kan købe én slags hvedebrød, én slags boller og én slags rugbrød. Brødene varierer fra uge til uge. Desuden laver de nogle traditionelle australske ruller, som er lavet af butterdej fyldt med enten grønt eller kød, og de laver doughnuts. Restauranten har hovedfokus på grønt, fisk og skalddyr. Der er åbent fra morgen til sen eftermiddag. Menuen skifter fra tid til anden, men kortet skal forblive simpelt. Til maden kan man drikke en god filterkaffe eller stedets hjemmelavede kolde drikke heriblandt kombucha, iste, stikkelsbær soda og rabarber soda. Når Lille Bakery holder aftenåbent, er der tale om uformelle langbordsmiddage, som man booker og betaler på forhånd. Maden er gedigen, velsmagende og portionerne er rigelige og selvfølgelig baseret på lokale råvarer.

Lille Bakery var stadig i sin spæde opstart, da jeg besøgte dem. Både Jesper, Mia og Sara arbejdede på daværende tidspunkt 14-18 timer om dagen 6-7 dage om ugen. Sådan hverken kan eller skal det blive ved med at være, det kan ingen holde til. Der er en tydelig plan for, hvordan de trapper timerne ned, fortæller de, først skal arbejdsdagen ned på 10 timer om dagen, og de skal have mindst en ugentlig fridag. Der er dog en ting, der ikke skal ændres på, understreger Jesper, ”det skal blive ved med at være mig som laver brødet, ellers bliver det til noget andet, og det er fordybelsen i processen, jeg elsker, og så elsker jeg at komme tidligt op og at gå i gang, mens alt er stille”, siger Jesper, som dog indskyder, ”sådan er det i al fald nu, måske gider jeg slet ikke bage brød om 5 år, hvem ved?”

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