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Nordic tastemakers

My Nordics, as told by Alan Bates

An insider’s guide to the Nordics with Alan Bates

British-born Chef Alan Bates founded restaurant Connection by Alan Bates in Copenhagen in 2021. Growing up on a farm just outside Cambridge, Bates’ journey into the kitchen began after he dropped out of university and found himself searching for purpose. Cooking provided that purpose, steering him away from a less productive path Bates’ career started at Alimentum in Cambridge, followed by a pivotal role at The Hand and Flowers, where he contributed to earning a second Michelin star. His experience includes prestigious kitchens like El Celler de Can Roca, Restaurant André and The Fat Duck. At Connection, he focuses on Nordic ingredients through a modern British lens, working with local producers to create innovative dishes.

Here, he shares his favourite spots across the Nordic region, highlighting the places and experiences that have shaped his love for his newfound Nordic life.

Copenhagen Denmark travel guide

“[Denmark is] a strong contender for the best country in the world, in my opinion”

In the Nordics, my favourite country is …

Denmark because I have chosen to live here. But in all seriousness, I do love it here; it’s a strong contender for the best country in the world, in my opinion. So many good things have happened to me since I came here that it feels like I’ve won the lottery.

For a dose of urban pulse, I head to …

Copenhagen, given that I live here and I’m already in the best city! I love that the whole city is super accessible, especially by bike. Copenhagen was once described to me as a small egg with a really big yolk, which I thought was a great analogy. There’s something cool to do or see on every street.

“I don’t really like things but love experiences.”

For the perfect close-to-nature experience, I visit …

… Dyrehaven, just north of Copenhagen. It’s an absolutely spectacular park with the most beautiful trees, and it’s the perfect spot to take the dog for a walk and get lost in nature.

For a memorable getaway, I check myself into …

… spa hotel Torekov in Sweden. My wife loves it there, and every year she takes me for my birthday in January. I don’t really like things but love experiences. It’s super cosy and relaxing, the perfect place to switch off and reset at the start of the year. It’s also very close to Falkenberg, which is home to Lilla Napoli, my favourite pizzeria in the world, so we always visit for lunch whenever we head to the spa.

Bird Copenhagen Denmark restaurant review

“He’s a legend in the game, and if you know, you know.”

For a great meal, I go to …

… Møntergade. It’s my favourite in the city by miles. I always have the herring and then maybe one or two other dishes depending on how hungry I am. The staff are amazing, many of whom are now friends, and they have a daily changing board of specials which is ace!

For a fun night out, I head to …

… Bird on Gammel Kongevej in Copenhagen or wherever Dado is working. He’s a legend in the game, and if you know, you know.

“I’m very proud of my home and want to make it feel super ‘hyggelig’.”

For a dose of retail therapy, I shop at …

… Illums Bolighus. I was fortunate enough to become a homeowner with my wife recently, and after renting all my life, it’s amazing to visit a home store and start to plan out what furniture could look cool and what we would like to save up for. I never really cared when I was renting, as places always felt transitory, so I didn’t invest in making them feel homely. But now, I’m very proud of my home and want to make it feel super ’hyggelig’.

For a dose of culture, I head to …

… Glyptotek and Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen. I think they are both amazing museums with totally different vibes, but both are equally amazing spaces to spend an afternoon.

Juno the Bakery Copenhagen Denmark

“You get some pastries and coffee and then choose one of Copenhagen’s many beautiful parks to sit in … ”

For a hidden gem, I recommend …

… the street Øster Farimagsgade in Copenhagen. It’s not really hidden, but it doesn’t get the love or attention it deserves. The street has some amazing restaurants, with Juju and Kappo Ando at either end, and Connection sandwiched between them. Plus, there are two fantastic brunch spots: Ø12 and The Union Kitchen.

For me, a quintessential Nordic experience is …

… heading out on your bike on a sunny morning to one of the fantastic bakeries in the city. Juno is my favourite. You get some pastries and coffee and then choose one of Copenhagen’s many beautiful parks to sit in and watch the world go by while enjoying some world-class food. It’s perfect.

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