On our latest trip to Sweden, we caught up with Björn Frantzén to see how things have been going following his eponymous restaurant receiving Three Michelin Stars in the 2018 Nordic Countries Guide.
You received your third star in February of this year. How did that feel?
It was a dream come true. I have been striving for seven years for Three Stars but had always felt that my previous location was a constraint. These larger premises allow me so much more space to keep growing the business.
Did you enjoy the launch?
Yes, it was a gamble to attend as I really didn’t know if I would achieve Three Stars in the new location. I was accompanied by my family so it was fantastic to be with them when it was announced. My youngest daughter was very excited knowing just how much it meant to me.
And your team?
They were watching the live stream together in a bar as it was a Monday and we were closed. There was a lot of cheering.
How did you celebrate?
A glass of champagne with my family and business partner. The following day was filled with interviews and then it was Wednesday and the restaurant was open again, so it was back to the kitchen. To be honest, I’ve still not really had that much time to celebrate properly.
Has the award made a difference to your customer profile?
No, not really. We are probably seeing more Swedish diners travelling to us from across the country but diners from around the world were already eating with us because of our Two Stars. What really surprised me was the reaction of our Swedish diners, who were genuinely proud that the country had its first Three Star restaurant.
We are keen to appeal to younger diners, who seem to be very enthusiastic about exploring this level of cuisine. With Guns and Roses playing in the lift and service that’s friendly, any preconceptions they may have are quickly removed. Our booking policy of one month in advance also makes it easier for people to make a reservation and avoids people becoming frustrated.
What are you working on currently?
We never stand still and are always looking at ways to evolve. We’ve only been here a year, so there is still a lot to do. We would like to develop a private dining room on another floor. We also plan to open for lunch two more days a week. Obviously I want the cuisine to evolve too, so we shall continue to dig deeper to exceed the expectations of our diners.
Tell us about your newly announced restaurant, Zen, that will open in Singapore later this year.
It’s an exciting project and very different from my other two restaurants in Hong Kong. I have already been out there and Marcus, my head chef, will be involved for the first few months, then I have a protégée who will take over. My family is very important to me and I want to ensure I maintain a good work-life balance, so I will stay here.
What advice would you give chefs aspiring to open a restaurant?
Understand your customers and what they will spend, then your business will be successful. More importantly, make sure you enjoy coming to work.
We finish our conversation in the lounge over coffee, as a seemingly never ending number of mignardises arrive. I‘m glad I’m with Björn as I can quiz him about the chocolate, blood and lingonberry truffle that’s just arrived; he replies, “Well you have chocolate sauces with venison don’t you…?”