Meet Michelin-starred chef Jonas Mikkelsen

Photo: VisitSydsjælland-Møn

How does a Michelin-starred chef get inspiration from The South Coast of Denmark? Meet chef Jonas Mikkelsen from Hotel Frederiksminde and get the answer.

Chef at Hotel Frederiksminde

When Jonas Mikkelsen walks through the garden gate in the morning to go to work, he could be anyone. Black jeans, white trainers, jacket, laptop bag in hand.
But his trip to work is different from that of most other people. From Jonas’ doorstep, the trip to Hotel Frederiksminde is roughly a 150-metre walk.

On the way there, Jonas is flanked by Præstø bay on one side, with its great view and expansive, flat waters, harbour and beach – and on the other, the beautiful, classic and modernised townhouses, located side by side in the cobbled town centre. The idyll, serenity and nature is so very close.

The local morning swimmers and dog walkers greet him amicably when they meet him – they know who Jonas Mikkelsen is. Jonas, who leads the rest of the team at Hotel Frederiksminde, has become the symbol of the development and change that the classic hotel has undergone in the past decade or so. From a union-run, local hotel to a prestigious Michelin star-winning gastronomic attraction.

Præstø is a small harbour-and old market town in South Zealand with 4,500 inhabitants. Nestled between the Faxe Bugt bay and Møn, like a little hidden gem along the winding coastline. A town with a pedestrian street, abundant shopping opportunities, an undulating marina with small maritime businesses, a local rowing club and converted warehouses on the pier.

Obviously, what makes it special to work as a top chef in a town like Præstø is these surroundings. The fact that we can work with things from nature, from our own vegetable garden and, of course, to have the sea so close gives a lot of inspiration and creates a real sense of calm.

But Præstø is also a town that’s changing. As the spring brings brighter days, visitors begin to make an appearance. They arrive by land and sea from near and far and breathe even more life into the harbour, streets and alleys, buzzing with music, food and outdoor life all summer – and a Michelin-starred restaurant at the tip of the bay to cap it all off.

Jonas’ path to Præstø was accidental. After various jobs as an apprentice chef, Jonas only lasted three months as a chef in Copenhagen before the restaurant was forced to close. Someone recommended that Jonas make the journey south, where he instantly fell in love with the place and not least with the opportunity to create his own world in the kitchen. A huge challenge, of course, but an immense opportunity.

I find peace by walking in the woods and picking herbs or mushrooms, staying down by the water picking sea-blite or plants that we can use in the kitchen or for arrangements – being able to switch off and just be out there really does something to you, both as a person and as a chef.

Today, Jonas is one of the locals. Jonas now lives with his wife and two small children in a beautifully restored townhouse 150 metres down the road from Hotel Frederiksminde. From here, life goes by with slow mornings, swims just outside the door, walks in the woods and, of course, plenty of experiments in the kitchen at home. Jonas Mikkelsen can’t help it.

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