This Wonderful Little Place … Henne Kirkeby Kro, Denmark

MAJKEN BECH BAILEY is opening Aimsir at Cliff at Lyons next spring. It is inspired in part by her favourite Danish restaurant …

I was brought up on a very small island, Lolland, in southern Denmark, where I have fond memories of time spent with my grandparents. I remember spending weekends with them as a child during the summer when their garden was full of all kinds of vegetables and berries. Later in the year there would be geese, pheasant and deer from my granddad’s hunts hanging in the garage. I always loved to help my grandmother in the kitchen, whether it was to slaughter a chicken, cook for Christmas or make an apple pie. She taught me that flavour takes time to develop, something I have always remembered as a formative experience in my culinary journey.

Another equally important experience was when I took a gap year after college and was offered a placement at an inn in a small village, Henne Kirkeby, on the west coast of Denmark, not far from the sea. It wasn’t entirely accidental as one of my friends was already working there. They were really busy one weekend and she asked if I could go and lend a hand. Arriving after the seven-hour trip from our little island, from the outside I could see the inn was a very traditional style of building with a thatched roof. In fact it was established in 1790, though the interior now has a contemporary Scandinavian design. It boasts the largest kitchen garden in Denmark, and includes an orchard and beehives. Quite honestly, I fell in love with the inn at first sight and I stayed there for two very happy years.

This little Michelin-starred restaurant – Henne Kirkeby Kro – taught me so much. This is the place where my career in fine dining began and where I met my husband [Jordan Bailey], so it’s special for many reasons. I was given Jordan’s table to look after when he came to dine one evening on a trip over from England. Jordan knew the head chef, Paul Cunningham, and was invited into the kitchen after his meal to celebrate a birthday with the kitchen team. We got talking and, as we have the same passion for food and wine, we became friends, then, after a while, a couple. We had a long-distance relationship prior to Jordan’s relocation to Oslo to work at the three-star Michelin restaurant, Maaemo. I also worked in various restaurants in Oslo and these experiences, alongside my time at Henne Kirkeby Kro, have definitely influenced what I would like to bring to Aimsir, [which opens at Cliff at Lyons next spring –check www.aimsir.ie for updates]. Jordan will concentrate on an “all-island” menu celebrating Ireland’s larder and heritage recipes. I’ve been lucky enough to work in places where I found the service inspiring – comfortable, welcoming and professional but still personal. I’m excited to develop the Aimsir style of welcome when we open next spring.

www.hennekirkebykro.dk.

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