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Q&A with Hazel Evans

24 April 2018 by Helen

Hazel Evans, Co-founder & Creative Director, Mad About Copenhagen
Hazel Evans, Co-founder & Creative Director, Mad About Copenhagen

Meet Hazel. She is the wisest, most driven 24-year-old you’ll ever meet. She hails from Bath, England and moved to Copenhagen four years ago. You’ll often find her channelling her inner Viking by polar plunging at Svanemøllen beach in sub-zero temperatures, or eating a bowl of muesli - it was during this interview where I learned she has a slight obsession with it! 

What did you have for breakfast this morning?

I had a cup of porridge with some raspberries, coconut milk and honey. Literally, just a little cup.

Favourite place to have breakfast/brunch in Copenhagen?

*Long pause*

I’m trying to think of the best eggs place, because I love eggs, but otherwise I think it would be Atelier September’s homemade granola with yoghurt, syrup-pickled courgette, basil and matcha powder.

What was your favourite food growing up?

That would also be granola. Oh dear, all my answers are about oats so far. I’m a bit obsessed. Apparently, when my mum was pregnant with me she got this desire to eat granola and muesli all the time. Then when I was a kid, I used to eat three big bowls of muesli a day - with fruit, honey, full-fat milk, everything. Then I started getting eczema because of all the milk, so I had to cut down to just one (big) bowl a day.

I need a wine bar, where do I go?

Tough question - there are so many  good ones! I've been going to Ved Stranden 10 quite a lot recently. It’s open on a Monday unlike a lot of wine bars in Copenhagen. They also do this “staff food for guests” thing every Monday that costs 100 kroner. Sometimes they have one of their chef friends come by and make something extra special. Their wine is just so delicious and it’s served in beautiful thin glasses. The space is very beautiful too - outdoor seating by the water in the summer, cosy inside, artsy bottles and beautiful sommeliers!

I say pasta restaurant, you say…?

Parma & Pasta, but it’s not technically in Copenhagen. It’s these two guys, Matteo and Filippo, from Parma in Italy and each of them works at one of the restaurants (there’s one in Lyngby, one in Høje Taastrup). They make all the pasta fresh in front of you.

Any places you are dying to try?

Noma! If we're talking worldwide, then Lune Croissanterie in Melbourne (yes, I would go all the way to Australia for a croissant).

What would be your last meal on Earth?

A loaf of incredible sourdough bread, fresh out of the oven, and a plate of the world’s best extra virgin olive oil sprinkled with sea salt. I would just dip the bread in and die in bliss.

Why Copenhagen?

It was a bit of an accident. Before I moved here, I was living in Bath and sleeping on my Mum’s bedroom floor. I was just trying to find a decent job and applying for stuff in France, Germany and London [Hazel was 19 at the time]. I had next-to-no-money left and I really wanted to get out of England again, so I came to visit two friends here in Copenhagen who I had met in Colombia a few years before, and we just hung out for the weekend. I was like “yeah I could live here.”

After my weekend in Copenhagen, I found this web design course that was taught in English and it was easy to get into. You actually get paid to study here and I qualified for that because I’m from the UK (pre-Brexit). My friend helped me find an apartment for the first three months and I sold all my stuff and moved here with a couple of bags. I ended up dropping out of the course, but by then I’d found a nice job, made friends and started Mad About Copenhagen. There was never a question of moving back.

What makes you smile?

Sitting on my bed and scrolling through @andershemmingsendk submissions, or stupid internet memes. Oh dear, I’m such a millennial! No, wait - actually, @newyorkercartons on Instagram. That sounds more cultured. They’re really funny. I like anything piss-takey.

Your greatest memory.

Ahh, greatest?! Ok, I can think one that is still really clear for me. It was when I was with my first boyfriend, just as we were getting together at the very start of our relationship and it was the first time I went to his apartment. He put on this comedy thing that he liked - an old-school British satire radio programme called On the Hour. We just lay there, on his bed, his arms around me - we still hadn’t kissed or anything - and it was the funniest thing I’d ever heard. I was literally shaking with laughter and he just held me closer the more I laughed… yeah, you know, the feeling of falling in love. 

Where in Copenhagen can I find the best coffee?

There is so much good coffee, but it’s gotta be Coffee Collective. There is no point in trying to be a hipster and avoid the fact that they’re the best.

Where is your next travel destination?

I’m torn. India, because I love the food and I was brought up with it. It would be nice to compare actual Indian food with British Indian food. But I also really want to learn how to dive, so I might go to Thailand or Indonesia instead. I’ll do both, I just don’t know which one is next!

Why were you brought up with Indian food?

In the UK, there has been Indian immigration for centuries, so it's a big part of our culture. Even some well known Indian dishes, like Chicken Tikka Masala, were actually invented in Britain. My mum was vegetarian, so she would cook a lot of Indian stuff.

Did you grow up vegetarian then?

I was vegetarian for the first 17 years of my life and I started eating meat when I’d been working as a chef for a while. I was cooking big English breakfasts and meaty lunch stuff. and one day I was like “hmmm I’m going to try a piece of bacon.” It was the bacon that did it. I don’t eat that much meat these days though - only sometimes when I’m eating out. I'd never buy meat to cook at home - I'm just not in the habit of doing so.

Is there a dish you had that you can’t stop thinking about?

I’m not usually into chicken, but when I was in Portland (Oregon), I went to a Thai restaurant called Pok Pok that I’d read loads about, and I had the most amazing plate of sticky fish-sauce chicken wings. It lived up to the hype.

Describe Marie in three words.

Generous, motherly and strong.

Who is your biggest role model?

Hmm, I’m trying to think of all the podcasts I listen to… Okay, got it! Dame Stephanie Shirley. Back in the days when women in England were not really working - they might have been educated, but the expectation was still that they would find a husband and stay at home and take care of the kids - Stephanie (she called herself “Steve” to get taken seriously in business) was like, “well I want to make a workspace for women”. In order to do that, she started a software company where women could work flexible hours or work from home as they liked. 

The whole concept of a part-time job or “working from home” was pretty much unheard of before. She built an entire company of freelance programmers, mostly women. The company grew and a lot of the women she hired eventually became millionaires and she transformed gender equality in England just like that. I particularly love her story because she was Jewish and had been evacuated to England during the War and then of course she had witnessed so many Jews die and in an interview I heard with her, she said something “I was saved for a reason, I have to do something on this Earth that can make my being here worth it, because I suvived.”

It makes me tingle just thinking of it. What a woman!

You find a four-leaf clover, what do you wish for?

Love!

What are you most proud of?

This is something Marie says about me sometimes, about me not being afraid to be the first to say “I love you”. I think that is something I do that I’m proud of, and I wish I was brave enough to do it more. It’s risking getting hurt or rejected, which is horribly scary. I do get hurt though and every time that happens I think at first that I should stop taking risks, but deep down I know should I keep doing it.

Now it gets a little faster. Coffee or tea?

Coffee.

Wine or beer?

Wine.

Croque-madame or croque-monsieur?

Madame.

Nørrebro, Vesterbro, Cph K, Østerbro, Frederiksberg, Christianshavn or Amager?

Christianshavn.

Day or night?

Day.

Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones?

Lord of the Rings.

Italian or New Nordic?

Ugh, that’s so hard, but ok - Italian.

Pasta carbonara or anything from Juno’s bakery?

Juno. 

Club or bodega?

Bodega, but really neither. Winebar.

Roskilde or Haven Festival?

Roskilde.

Chocolate or caramel?

Chocolate.

Summer or winter?

Winter.


Enjoyed this interview? Read my interview with Marie, answering exactly the same questions!