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Q&A with Marie Houlberg Abildhauge Olesen

4 May 2018 by Helen

Marie Abildhauge Olesen, CEO & Co-founder, Mad About Copenhagen
Marie Abildhauge Olesen, CEO & Co-founder, Mad About Copenhagen

Do you know someone and think, “how could anyone possibly NOT like this person?” Well, that is Marie. It’s not only because she’s friendly and nice - many people are - but because she has a true, genuine and nurturing heart. Her fiery red hair cannot be missed in the sea of Copenhagen blondes and even though she is Danish through and through, she feels like an Italian at heart. Her favourite food is her mother’s pasta which she now recreates herself.

What did you have for breakfast this morning?

I had kefir with some oats, chia, blood orange, coconut flakes and almonds. I’m quite into kefir right now.

Favourite place to have breakfast/brunch in Copenhagen?

Probably Mirabelle. They have this morning platter with a sourdough bun, really good butter, Vesterhavs cheese, cooked ham, and a soft-boiled egg. I like the simplicity.

What was your favourite food growing up?

We had this dish pretty much every Friday in my family. In Italian, it’s Spaghetti Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino, which just means spaghetti with oil, garlic, and chilli. My mom lived in Sicily for a couple of years and for that reason she cooked a lot of Italian food when my brother and I were growing up. This dish with garlic, oil, chilli, and parmesan cheese became our family dish. It was just a dish that everyone really liked. Even today, if we celebrate something, if something terrible has happened or if we’re really sad, we have that dish. It’s always a safe choice for everyone no matter how we’re feeling.

I need a wine bar, where do I go?

Vinhanen. I like the informal feeling of the place. It’s very down to earth.

I say pasta restaurant, you say…?

Probably Mirabelle again. Their lunch pasta is really good. They do one lunch pasta a day. I once had this vegetarian ragù with chickpeas. It was really flavourful even though there wasn’t any meat in it. It still had that fattiness that meat usually gives.

Any places you are dying to try?


What would be your last meal on Earth?

That would be the pasta my mum makes. I think it’s the most meaningful dish in my life.

Why Copenhagen?

School - CBS (Copenhagen Business School) - such a boring answer.

What makes you smile?

Food. *Big smile appears across face*

Your greatest memory.

Experiencing Hurricane Sandy in New York. [Marie studied a semester at Berkeley College.] I remember the night before. It was right after a Halloween party I’d been to and I had the most horrific hangover on the day that we got the news. We had to leave the city, so my roommate and I - we lived in Hoboken, New Jersey - went to stay with her family that lived two-hour drive inland. I had to get up even though I was so sick and I didn’t really know or realise what was going on. We went out there and ended up staying for more than a week. I remember sleeping in the basement the night of the hurricane with my passport, not really knowing whether the roof of the house would still be there in the morning.

Where in Copenhagen can I find the best coffee?

I feel like it's not niche enough to say Coffee Collective but I really like their coffee.

Where is your next travel destination?

Well dreaming wise, I would like my next travel destination to be Iran.

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

I had a dish probably about 15 years ago when I lived in Odense. My parents went a lot to this restaurant called Oluf Bagers Gaard and I remember it was the first time I tasted goat’s cheese and I had this tuna steak, and I think it was also the first time where I had really fresh tuna. It came with some sort of potato and a sauce made from goat’s cheese. Really fatty and creamy, and it went so well with that steak. My family joke about it because they know that whenever we talk about this restaurant or eating out in Odense, they know before they even mention it, I am going to talk about this dish.

Describe Hazel in three words:

Smart, quick and considerate.

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

That’s such an American question! I wish for Mad About Copenhagen to grow to a team 10+ employees with a lot of exciting activities, and we’ll have created a workplace that people are in love with.

What are you most proud of?

Having started my own business.

Now it gets a little faster. Coffee or tea?


Wine or beer?


Croque-madame or croque-monsieur?

Croque Madame.

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


Day or night?


Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones?

What!!? I can’t answer that! Okay, yes I can. Lord of the Rings.

Italian or New Nordic?


Pasta carbonara or anything from Juno’s bakery?

Pasta Carbonara.

Club or bodega?


Roskilde or Haven festival?


Chocolate or caramel?


Summer or winter?


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