We can’t help noticing you’re not Danish…
No, I’m Italian, and my business partner Nick (Pound) is a Londoner. I’m a chef by trade and mostly worked in Italy before moving to London cook at Tabernacle in Shoreditch with chef Ian Graham, and gastropubs such as The Salt House, The Ruby Grand and Idlewild. Nick and I came up with the idea for Mother in London, but then I moved to Copenhagen because I had a kid on the way and it was a bit more child-friendly.
Why are you bringing Mother to London?
We were basically headhunted. A lot of Londoners come to Copenhagen for the weekend and we’re in Time Out and all the guides so we get a lot of visitors. We always wanted to open in London but were waiting for right the site. Battersea Power Station were looking for independent operators and asked us to come in as the only international brand, which is cool.
Tell us about your new site
We’re going to be one of the first restaurants to open at the Power Station. The restaurant has about 170 covers and two wood-fired ovens, so it’s quite big. We have a small outside space and are under the first arch under the railway next to the Power Station. We’ll have to speak to the council but we’re hoping to run street parties like we do in Copenhagen.
What’s the Danish angle?
Mother is Italian food in a Scandinavian concept. The Danes are very good at creating atmosphere because they spend a lot of time indoors during the long winters. We have kept that approach and decorated the restaurant with light wood - everything is candlelit and we’ll give out blankets to people who want to sit outside. Mother is mix of the Scandinavian hygge and Italian hospitality.
What’s on the menu?
Pizza is going to be the star, but we’ll have a bigger pool of staff in London so we’ll be able to make more dishes. We have a big grill and intend to change the menu more often. We are going to serve very rustic, Italian food. One of our new dishes is arrosticini (skewered lamb) which is very typical of the Abruzzo region, and suppli, which is the roman answer to arancini, that we make with ragu and mozzarella. We’re going to do buffet-style brunches with eggs served warm straight from the pan. Hopefully we’ll get enough trade to open from 8am and serve juices and homemade pastries as well. In Copenhagen we make ingredients like mozzarella and beer ourselves and we are hoping to do the same in London.
What’s special about your pizzas?
Our pizza dough is made with seawater, which gives it a much lighter taste but the acidity of the sourdough comes out better. It’s much easier to digest, so you can stuff your face with it and an hour later you’re fine. We’re also going to sell Er Boquerón, which is a seawater beer made in Spain. It’s got one of the best mineral contents of any beer, so it’s the only alcohol that you can have after the gym.
What’s the price point?
Mother has a good following because everyone can afford to eat here. Even though we make our own cheese we don’t shout about it by putting homemade next to every dish. It’s my job to make the food taste good, I shouldn’t charge you more because I’m doing my job properly. In Copenhagen our margherita and marinara pizzas have been the same price (roughly £8-£10) for seven years. Our toppings, like homemade sausage and confit porcini mushrooms, will obviously be more expensive, but we believe that everybody should be able to buy a pizza and a beer for about £12.
Could Mother open more sites in the UK if this is successful?
It has never been our aim to open more venues. We could have opened loads in Copenhagen, but it is already hard to maintain the quality with two places, so for a chain it would be impossible. In Italian we have a saying ‘di mamme ce nè una sola’ – which means ‘you only have one mother’, so that keeps us in our place.