Soren Ledet, Geranium: «We must work so that people have a good time, not to impress them»

The co-patron and general manager of the restaurant in Copenhagen says: «It's not the stars or the awards that define you as a person. And we will not open any more restaurants: without time for ourselves we can go mad»

Søren Ørbek Ledet, co-patron, general manager an

Søren Ørbek Ledet, co-patron, general manager and wine director at restaurant Geranium in Copenhagen, portrayed by Brambilla/Serrani

In a culinary scene that feeds on new openings, establishments and formats, hearing the co-patron, general manager and wine director at Geranium in Copenhagen, Søren Ørbek Ledet say that with his business partner and chef Rasmus Kofoed they will not open more restaurants is revolutionary. «We won't have time to dedicate to something like this. We're human beings and we must have time for ourselves and our families: without time for ourselves we can go mad, without time for our families we will end up alone. Hence we will not open any more restaurant!», he explained when interviewed by Gabriele Zanatta during the second-last meeting in the Auditorium at Identità Milano 2022. 

And there's more. Post-pandemic Geranium, three Michelin stars and second restaurant in the World’s 50 Best, says Ledet «has eliminated a shift: we're now open from Wednesday to Saturday, with lunch only on Wednesday and Saturday». The goal is to make sure that everyone, both staff and owners («We've kept all the staff during the pandemic, even the kitchen hand, because it was the right thing to do») feel better. A Copernican revolution that is luckily spreading in Italy too, a beloved country for Søren Ledet who in the brigade at Geranium has 11 Italians. He says: «My heart beats for Italy. And over the years I've realised that Italians who work in restaurants are very professional. They don't just think about their career. They are proud of what they do».

During the interview with Gabriele Zanatta

During the interview with Gabriele Zanatta

He's proud of his (triple) role at Geranium, but he doesn't consider himself a super-hero. Instead, he's a motivator: «I have a team of incredible people who work for me and whom I inspired to give their best». And he knows a thing or two about inspiration, having left the kitchen for the dining room. His story should be a mandatory reading for those who aspire to work in restaurants: «I was a very ambitious chef. When Rasmus and I met, 27 years ago, we both wanted to be the best: in 2004 I was Best Danish Chef, in 2005 the best in the Nordic countries, and then I went to Noma. When we opened Geranium, I was in charge of hot dishes, he was in charge of cold ones. Every week we discussed how we could improve, until we realised that neither of us was in the dining room and we decided to work in turns. I had no idea of what waiters do before arriving in the dining room. I thought their work was simply to serve our perfect dish. Half an hour was enough to understand the meaning of service for our clients. I fell in love with the concept and never left the dining room».

Indeed he follows the philosophy of those who, like Gualtiero Marchesi ahead of his time, attributed to service 60% of the success of a restaurant. «I agree that service is a crucial part of restaurants: you're more likely to return to a place with an incredible service than to one where the food was good and the service wasn't up to its standards». And here we get to another observation Ledet made against dishes prepared to surprise at all costs. «In Denmark there are many chefs focused on surprising», he says. «When we moved to the current location, we realised our goal was to make sure people would have a good time, not to impress them. We should redefine fine dining based on a new foundation: pleasing in a more casual way, so that people can explore even the possibility of eating with their hands». Summing up, «Keeping a lower profile, which is a new emerging trend in restaurants».

But Geranium is ahead even when it comes to the food-beverage pairing (not just wine). «We have 4 different pairings with wines, based on prices and variety and, following a growing need, we also offer an alcohol-free pairing because today many people, for all sorts of reasons, don't drink alcohol: at least 10% of the clients. Giulia Caffiero takes care of the alcohol-free pairings, working on this even 15 hours per day».

In fact for Ledet, Kofoed and Geranium there's only one goal: to always improve, even though for them it seems impossible to improve further. But Ledet is ready to surprise: «The awards are frills that have nothing to do with who you are and what you can do. Regardless of the accomplishments, it's important to understand that we can always improve. I don't know what lies ahead for us, but we always work to become the better version of ourselves. For instance, we only serve seafood and vegetables, and we're working hard because the world is changing». And together with the world, we must change, or else give up.

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso

IG2022: the future is now


Mariella Caruso

A journalist from Catania, now in Milan, she was born in 1966. «I travel, meet people and tell stories on Volevofareilgiornalista» and on numerous other publications

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