Bronte Aurell, Danish entrepreneur, restauranteur and cook, and together with her Swedish husband, Jonas, runs the acclaimed ScandiKitchen café and shop in central London.
With two cookbooks under her belt, and her third, ‘ScandiKitchen: The Essence of Hygge’ coming out on 14th February, we spoke to Bronte about how her new book will stand out on our coffee tables, and on her thoughts on the latest backlash of hygge…
“I just heard so much nonsense in the media about hygge that I could not let it pass without getting on my little soapbox and having my say. I was watching hygge being crushed under all these big expectations. It’s such a gentle, loving concept, I just couldn’t stand by and watch it.”
A lot of what is written about hygge is misunderstood. Why?
Because it is hard to take something that is such a huge part of Danish (and Norwegian) culture and then suddenly translate it to a different culture. For us, it is ingrained in everything we do – and has been for such a long time, decades if not century. It’s a feeling, not just a concept.
So, it became this ‘thing’ that people started chasing, some kind of utopia of being calm and happy. Then came the branded stuff – the blankets, the socks – even underpants. Hygge has nothing to do with all of that. Hygge is simply appreciating the moment you are in, while you are in it. With doing just that comes a gentle appreciation, a momentary happiness… Collect these moments throughout the day, and how can you not end up feeling better?
What three things do you think best describe hygge?
Calm, cosy, together
How do you think the British are embracing hygge and do you think we’re any good at it?
The British have always been good at hygge – just look at your pubs! The PERFECT places for being with people you like, having a nice time and not wanting to be anywhere else.
This is one of the issues with hygge being on this pedestal as something revolutionary – it’s not a new feeling. It is just what you have been doing all along, except somewhere along the way we all decided to sit on our smartphones and forget to enjoy the moment we were in, while we were in it. We became too busy, too stressed, too frantic – and then hygge came along to remind us all that in order to feel at ease, happy and at peace right now, all you need to do is switch off and be present.
Hygge is about stopping to think, for a second or two, and allowing yourself to appreciate the moment.
What delicious recipes can we look forward to devouring in your new book?
The book is a pocket book collection of my favourite recipes from the books I have written. For maximum hygge, I’d make a big batch of cinnamon buns and invite friends over for coffee and buns. Or make some delicious Daim cookies and bring them to the office for afternoon coffee break. The book has both savoury and sweet – but mainly sweet. Because when we sit down and share food – cakes, buns, biscuits, we also connect.
What do you predict the British will be embracing from Scandinavian lifestyle next?
Well, Lagom has been hailed to be the next big thing (A Swedish concept meaning ‘not too much, not too little’, about living inside your needs not to excess). I’m all about lagom, being a Swedish/Danish family, so I understand the appeal. Although, I think it was a bit quick off the mark and I have a feeling it will fall a bit flat in the UK – I am not sure it fits here as well as some think.
I’m more inclined to think the Finnish concept of Sisu is next. I really like Sisu – it is a spirit, a determination in life. It means resilience, determination, perseverance… The ability to face something head on and always overcome it. When someone takes on something in the face of incredible odds against and makes it through. Inner strength and empowerment.
It means you finish what you start and you DO NOT QUIT – and you don’t whine. Now THAT is something I can get behind – bring it on!
SCANDIKITCHEN: THE ESSENCE OF HYGGE, Bronte Aurell
Published by Ryland Peters & Small, 14th February 2017, £9.99
Find it here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Scandikitchen
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Inspiration/Image Credits: Bronte’s Picture- Nina RangoySink, Sitting room- Rachel Whitingsink, Sink- Debi Treloar, ScandiKitchen