The Flying Elk lands in Hong Kong
With its doors barely open, we managed to sit down with three-Michelin star chef Björn Frantzén to discuss his latest addition to the Hong Kong culinary scene, The Flying Elk. The gastropub encapsulates the same spirit as the original concept in Stockholm but with a more Nordic spin and we couldn't wait to see the space and try out the inventive dishes. This is the second space for the chef in Hong Kong and has been brought onto the scene by F&B powerhouse Maximal Concepts.
Congratulations on the opening of The Flying Elk! Can you tell us a bit about the concept for the restaurant and what can guests expect?
The Flying Elk is in essence a gastropub, encapsulating the original concept which is in Stockholm. However, I would say that the restaurant in Hong Kong is more Nordic in nature than Swedish. In Hong Kong, we've focused on sharing dishes, creating a relaxed experience for our guests.
In terms of the design, we also wanted guests to see the high energy kitchen, so we made sure this was an open kitchen that can be seen throughout the whole restaurant.
Why did you decide to open The Flying Elk specifically in Hong Kong?
I opened Frantzéns Kitchen here 2 years ago. During the process, I met Malcom Wood the founder of Maximal Concepts and he asked me if I was interested in doing a second restaurant. I wanted to see how Frantzéns Kitchen would be received and it's done really well, Hong Kong has been great to us.
I'd also spent a significant amount of time in the city over the years. In 2013, I came over as guest chef at Amber in The Landmark Mandarin Oriental. The exclusive pop-up brought a taste of Sweden to Hong Kong which was exciting for us.
How did you devise the menu? Produce is different in Stockholm, how does that translate to the dishes?
We've had hundreds of dishes on the menu at The Flying Elk in Stockholm so we decided to go for favourites here in Hong Kong but we also decided to strip the menu slightly because we are focused on medium sized sharing dishes here.
In terms of the produce, as always when opening a restaurant overseas, it's important to go and see what is available in the market. As we already have Frantzéns Kitchen, we had a good understanding of what we could get access to so opening a second restaurant in the city was a lot easier, we knew what ingredients we could get in from the Nordic region - the process was a lot more seamless.
What are the highlight dishes on the menu?
That's a tough question! One of the dishes that has been on the menu from day one in Stockholm and is a favourite amongst our guests is the scallops with truffled scramble eggs, brown butter and soy. All the dishes are made in Stockholm by me and my team but we're open to making changes.
Tell us about your journey as a chef?
It might sound strange but cooking was my back up plan. I was originally planning to play professional football but an injury meant it wasn't meant to be. I was then tasked with thinking of what to do next and in Sweden by law you have to go to some kind of college so I went to culinary college and it soon became my passion. I opened my first restaurant in 2008 and we got two stars within 18 or 20 months. So that gave me a good start I'd say.
How big is the team here?
Our team is around 35 – 40 people as part of a seven day operation. It's a big team in comparison to Frantzéns Kitchen. For new restaurant openings outside of Stockholm, we bring people over for the first 2 – 3 weeks to help and support. We want to spread the original DNA of our restaurants in Sweden to make sure this is all being felt in Hong Kong.
What's next for you?
We have one confirmed opening overseas but you'll have to wait and see!
When we decide to go somewhere, it has to be a place where we want to spend a significant amount of time. It's also all about the team on the ground. The head Chef of Frantzéns Kitchen and The Flying Elk, Jim Löfdahl, has been with me for 10 years, he was the first person I employed back in 2008. Jim will overlook both restaurants now.
In terms of the near future, we are always getting lots of exciting offers for opportunities so stay tuned…