Tucked away in a cosy Vesterbro sidestreet, Din Baghave is an Aladdin’s Cave of fresh, delicious produce – all of it grown by some of Denmark’s most innovative and environmentally conscientious farmers. We met with owner Mette Marie Mølgaard Helbæk to find out more.
What is the inspiration behind Din Baghave?
My husband and I had a restaurant (Hansens Køkken & Bar in Frb Allé) and I was used to getting fresh ingredients straight from the farmers. When we sold the restaurant, I was forced to do my grocery shopping at the supermarkets and I wasn’t able to find the same kind of excellent vegetables. I hate supermarkets! They make people consume without reflecting.
At the same time, I was working as a food writer (I was the editor of Spiseliv.dk) and I noticed that there was a lot of focus on vegetables and local terroir in many top restaurants (l’Arpege in Paris, Dragsholm Slot, Noma and Geranium here in Denmark and Joia in Milan etc.). That, coupled with the upsurge of interest in Nordic cuisine, made me think that this would be the perfect time to open up a gourmet vegetable shop. I still think I’m right. I mean, we have the best climate in the world for growing specific things like apples, strawberries, root vegetables, cabbage etc. When we have all these things outside the door, why can we only get the less good things from Holland and so on in the supermarkets?
With Din Baghave I want to revolutionize the way people look at vegetables. From a cheap, boring, healthy necessity to an amazing luxury full of stories, colours, variety and flavours.
What kind of customers are you getting?
My customers are anyone and everyone. Old people, families with children, students. But of course also a lot of gourmets. People who come to pick up havtorn and herbs from the forest and the things from Søren Wiuff that they’ve read about in the magazines.
A lot of food writers come to my shop to find special things for a photo shoot or a TV appearance. And some old people come to find the sorts of potatoes, apples or strawberries they remember from their childhood but are not able to find anywhere else.
I also have a lot of health-conscious customers who like that I have a lot of organic and biodynamic things. They are more than welcome but I have to stress here that my mission is not to bring health to the people, I want to show them how excellent vegetables can be and how good they taste. Then it’s just a nice side effect that they’re healthy too!
What are your plans for the future?
In May I’m opening up full-time stalls in Østerbro and one more place (maybe in Ørestad). In August my plan is to open up a stall in the new Torvehaller in Israels Plads. I want good vegetables to be accessible for anyone. I want them to be the natural choice instead of the dull Dutch and Spanish vegetables that everyone’s buying today.
Can you tell us a little about your suppliers?
I’m only using suppliers who want to do things better and different to all the other farmers. I constantly encourage my farmers to go new ways and they have to be ready for that. My main suppliers are Søren Wiuff in Lammefjorden and Kiselgården in Ugerløse and for the new season I have made some excellent (meaning interesting, not cheap) deals with a guy called Carsten Søgård in Glænø, Ventegodtgård near Køge and Bakkegården near Ringsted. They are all very passionate people. They care. That’s so important. Caring is everything, it’s the only way you can make extraordinary things.