Meet the youngest Restaurant Manager of a Michelin-starred restaurant in Denmark. How it all started, wine suggestions and the dreams of the future.
”I have a very humble approach to all of this. At the end of the day, what I’m doing is talking with people while serving food and wine.” It all sounds very simple and down to earth. Which it is. The same is the surroundings where this talk is taken place in. But when you look an extra time, you can see that nothing is left to chance. The interior is beautiful. Four chefs are standing almost toe-to-toe in the kitchen preparing for the evening to come. And the wine cellar is unbelievable, stocking some of the most rare and expensive bottles in the world. The sorts of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and Château Petrus. And the person we are talking to knows a thing or two about serving wine and food.
Meet Mr. Carsten Cesar from the appraised Copenhagen-restaurant, Formel B. The youngest Restaurant Manager at a Michelin-stared restaurant in Copenhagen while also serving as the Head Sommelier. Despite of his only 27 years he has already worked at some of the most respected restaurants in Denmark. It all started being a dishwasher on Bornholm at the Michelin-restaurant, Kadeau. ‘I really got a long with one of the guys behind the restaurant, Nikolaj, and he started quizzing me about wine. Questions like ‘what grape do they use in red Burgundy’ and this started my interest in wine,” Mr. Cesar says. The next year his waiter-career started in the same restaurant and from there his career has only had one direction: up.
But it wasn’t a sure thing that Mr. Cesar ended up here at Formel B. A failed admission test on the architect school got him to think. ‘I started to ask myself questions, like ‘what do I really like to do? and ‘what am I good at’? And what I realized was that I liked being around people, talking to them and making sure they were having a good time. And that was exactly what I was able to do working in restaurants.” So from here, he started really taking this serious. He helped the Bornholm-based restaurant, Kadeau opening up a restaurant in Copenhagen. He took his Sommelier-exam. And all of the sudden, one of his friends he was playing football together with came up to him and told him about this new restaurant that he was going to open. “And he said, I really want you to be a part of this. And I really wanted to, so I accepted his offer. I was there from the early start. We tore down the old place – from walls to the floor. And we build it up from nothing.”
The restaurant was called Taller and was making Venezuelan food. Mr. Cesar was responsible for the wine working as Head Sommelier. “Due to this kitchen being so untraditional if you compare it to what we are used to eat here in Scandinavia, I had to be very creative when it came to pairing wines with these dishes. For example, on the wine menu was a Chardonnay from Serbia. And I served a Barolo together with a noodle soup. It was extreme. But it was fun! And I really like giving people an experience they haven’t had before.”
And the restaurant was doing well. But some time in he was approach by Formel B. ‘I got this text message asking if I wanted to work as the Restaurant Manager and Head Sommelier. I couldn’t believe it and my arms wouldn’t come down. It was a huge complement to my work and me.” So Mr. Cesar stopped his work at Taller and started in Formel B in August ’16. And the restaurant and his personality look like a perfect match. “This restaurant is very down to earth. We have all sorts of customers. From successful businessmen to couples who has never eaten at a Michelin-starred restaurant before – and we want to give them all the best possible experience. Our work-uniform is an open Button-Down shirt paired with an apron made in Leather. It’s very straightforward.’
And one of the keys for a great experience is great wine. So of course we had to ask Mr. Cesar about some of his favorite wines from his extremely large wine-card. “I take every chance I get to open up a bottle of Champagne. Unfortunately, Champagne is often very expensive. But one of the more reasonable priced, and a bottle that in my opinion really offers value-for-money, is the S.A. Jacques Selosse, Blanc de Blancs,"Initial”. It’s amazing.” Moving on to white- and red wine, he usually ends up in Burgundy. “The white wine that pops up into my mind is a Meursault from Domaine Des Comtes Lafon from 2011. It’s a classic Meursault with lots of buttery notes and is a broud-shouldered white wine. The red wine I would go for is a Gevrey-Chambertin from Domaine Fourrier from 2012. Such a great bottle!”
Having a resume like the one Mr. Cesar has is in many ways impressive. But the dreams doesn’t stop here. “Some day I really want to open up my own place. A small place for 35-40 people where people come to ‘visit’ me. Like people do when they go to Søllerød Kro to be waited by the legendary Jan Restorff. That’s really what I dream about doing some day.”
We will see where Mr. Cesar ends up. But until then, make sure you go visit him and his awesome colleagues at Formel B.