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Atelier September

“A Place for Daytime Cooking” by Frederik Bille Brahe

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“Atelier September: A Place for Daytime Cooking” by Frederik Bille Brahe published by Apartamento arrives has arrived at Dover Street Market.

The eighty-six mostly vegetarian recipes featured in the book are dedicated to the Copenhagen restaurant, Atelier September, founded by Frederik Bille Brahe. Personal reflections on each dish reveal Frederik's focus on fresh, seasonal ingredients, with recipes often inspired by Frederik's memories of home and family.

Edited by Jeni Porter and beautifully illustrated with photos by Rasmus Weng Karlsen, “Atelier September" includes an introduction and interludes written by Frederik that recount the restaurant's early days as part of a broader culinary revolution in Copenhagen.

Earlier this month, Camille Okhio spoke to Frederick Bille Brahe during the U.S. launch of “Atelier September: A place for daytime cooking”. These excerpts are taken from that conversation, ahead of the book signing in-store at Dover Street Market.

Camille Okhio: What is your first memory of food? A smell, a taste, or a colour?
Frederik Bille Brahe: It’s all three together. It’s very clear to me: It was in my father’s garden, eating fennel. I remember the taste because he said it was a liquorice root. He always tried to trick us kids into eating vegetables by saying it was candy. 

Camille Okhio: You write a lot in the book about how memories, images, and feelings influence your cooking. Can you tell us about a few colours or textures or activities that connect to a specific ingredient or dish in your mind?
Frederik Bille Brahe: It’s a bit difficult to talk about here because it’s very personal. But it’s something that happens in the moment, you know? Every time I cook with sage, it reminds me of my father and my grandfather because we had a sage bush at home, something that my grandfather brought from Italy. 

Olive oil is also sort of religious in a way. It has a meaning in history, like in Egypt where they would shower in olive oil, treat their skin with it. I imagine these values introduced into the olive oil as this soul. And then when you cook a dish, if you add olive oil, you put soul into the dish. 

Camille Okhio: Do you have a favourite recipe in the book?
Frederik Bille Brahe:
I want to borrow the book and look through it ... Um. Porridge. Hilarious. 

Camille Okhio: You write about limitations birthing ideas. Can you speak more about that or give some examples?
Frederik Bille Brahe:
I had the chance to open Atelier September, which was in a brocante shop, in a space that was not made for cooking. There was no kitchen, there was no exhaust, there was no licence for alcohol, and there was no allowance to stay open in the evening. 

Camille Okhio: Did you break a lot of rules? 
Frederik Bille Brahe:
Yes, but I was so eager to say something with cooking that I never saw the limitations. I sort of bent towards them. If I had found another place where I could do dinner, I would have done all the typical things that a chef would like to do. However, it was impossible. So, where normally you would serve wine, I would serve coffee, juices, and green tea that I love. It made me import my tea directly from Japan because otherwise I couldn’t afford to serve it. It made me cook in a different way. And there were no restaurants like that in Copenhagen. It pushed me into a scene where I did something that was out of the norm. So I think all these limitations actually created the thing, the magic. 

Camille Okhio: So, a larger question: What is your philosophy for living?
Frederik Bille Brahe:
I think there’s something about generosity and trust that is very important for me. In my cooking and in my family life, there is a balance between trying to organise and then also allowing things to happen as they do. In the moment, you might be like, ‘Oh, this is not as it should be’. But when you look back, there is always some sort of wisdom to how things play out. Therefore, when you actually try to do your best and you also treat people with respect, it comes out really good. And it’s the same thing with cooking. If you choose beautiful products, and you cook simply with them, it also comes out nice.