‘A real masonry house,’ he remarks. The star coiffeur in Århus lives in a classic 1950s villa. The building style was the most common in Denmark between the early 1900s and the Second World War.
The term relates to a simple house with a brick façade and a saddle roof angled 45 degrees. A somewhat burly expression, it can be found in Gyldendal’s Great Danish Encyclopaedia.
Newly shot pheasants on a hook, small mountains of lemons, and banks of fresh, glossy onions – the French kitchen is the coiffeur’s passion. To fully be able to dedicate himself to his interest without being disturbed, he had to expand. The extension is a smaller version of the original building. And just like that, the burly expression disappeared.
The light trickles in through the skylights, and a section of generous windows face the garden. By the kitchen entrance, two tender olive trees stand guard. The low windows above the worktop facing the street are an ingenious solution. They give light without view from the outside.
Below the serrated roof is now a rustic kitchen with a French connection; a small cathedral, a temple for the culinary arts. The altar is a Lacanche, named after a village in Bourgogne, the Rolls Royce of stoves. La Cornue, the competition, would probably, and perhaps justly, protest. Let’s call one a Rolls and the other a Bentley, or vice versa. In any case, quality doesn’t come cheap.
The coiffeur’s stove was a sixtieth birthday present. He had dreamed of one for a long time, and his expectations were well and truly met. The Lacanche is always fitted by hand, following the customer’s needs and wishes. To the coiffeur this meant two built-in ovens, six gas burners, and a stove plate for heating.
Next to the stove is an open fireplace. A massive iron plate behind the hearth is the main source of heat. The fireplace was originally from a French train factory. On the floor is a Berber rug from Morocco. In a pair of comfortable chairs, one of them a real chaise longue, you can relax with a book in front of the fireplace while the food cooks on the hob.
Wegner’s white Y-chairs are placed around the dining table. There, the coiffeur, his wife and their dinner guests gather around to eat Moules marinières with anis or a Bouillabaisse, in summer. During winter, it is hot soup, Coq au Vin or something hearty like Osso Buco, veal shanks in tomato sauce. Osso buco is Italian for bone with a hole, a classic dish.
The kitchen is a multi-purpose room. There is no TV and the radio is turned off during mealtimes, but apart from that, the sky’s the limit. Cooking does take precedence though. The coiffeur suspects that the modern kitchen’s prime purpose is to be decorative and shown off. In his own, meals are prepared and enjoyed.
In front of the stove is a worktop from a French metal factory, the marks from knife and cleaver bear testament to this. Below the worktop lies the dog of the house, hoping to get a bite. He is a bulldog, French, naturally. There is no denying that the coiffeur has a severe case of Francophilia.
He has been travelling to France for the past 40 years, both for business and pleasure. His favourite places are Paris, Provence, and the Alps. He has eaten in restaurants with three stars in Michelin’s Guide Rouge and modest brassieres, pricey and posh versus cheap and cheerful, but never a disappointment, never. In France, he has learned to appreciate the quality of the produce and the pleasant conversations had over a bite to eat and a glass of wine.
In this French country-style kitchen, crockery, pans, and utensils are hung up for everyone to see – sieves, whisks, ladles, graters, and strainers. On the open shelves are plates, bowls, carafes, and jugs, a small library of cookery books and mealtime literature, a battery of oils, vinegars, and a Red Renault Cognac used to flambé. On the worktop are more bottles, jars, pepper grinders, and mortars. Everything is there, to hand.
Below the shelves, there is a row of glass drawers for groceries – flour, sugar, grains, cereal, rice, peas, beans, spices, and other dry goods. When he saw the glass drawers in one of Kvänum’s retro kitchens, the star coiffeur was instantly interested in the whole range. He decided on Broby soft white for a genuine French touch.
A somewhat unlikely combination – the table top from a French buffet table and the plinth from a ham slicer from Berkel – make up a stand-alone kitchen counter. It makes you think of French poet Comte de Lautréamont’s famous words about the chance meeting on a dissecting table of a sewing machine and an umbrella.
The kitchen counter is not quite as surreal. It is actually rather practical. But in the Danish coiffeur’s French kitchen, the imagination flows freely.