'As it stands, we've been closed more than we've been open'

The  Staff Canteen

Jordan Bailey and Majken bech-Bailey always dreamt of having their own business.

What that might look like, however, was different: Jordan wanted a fine dining, blow your socks off restaurant, while for Majken a cafe would do, as long as she could provide a great experience to, and get to enjoy a closeness with her guests. 

It may be that it is the combination of their two dreams that makes Aimsir so special: the alchemy that binds them together in such a complementary way, beyond the restaurant's beautiful premises, not to mention the tremendous amount of work both put into getting it off the ground.

Majken explained: "When we first met I was more thinking of getting a little cafe or a little breakfast place, nothing too posh because my passion is food but also just being with the guest and creating that experience.

"Working at Henne [Kirkeby Kro], I just loved that experience, doing breakfast and having the guest checking in with you, having them for a whole day the next night and seeing them the next morning, I think there's something very special about that."

"It just came very naturally that this is what we're doing."

Whether a stab in the dark in its conception or thoroughly though-out as it has been in its execution, to be awarded two Michelin stars almost immediately after opening Aimsir was by far the highlight of both of their careers.

"We were happy just to get an invite," Jordan said, as it was "a chance to meet friends and chefs that we look up to, we were just super excited about that." 

"It had only been four or five months, there was no way we were thinking it was going to be two stars," he said, adding that "when we saw the two stars come up on the screen, we had a bit of a meltdown for sure." 

"I don't think that will ever sink in and I'm glad for that, because then you don't get too complacent." 

The recognition felt like it wasn't just for what they were doing, but for the 18 months of groundwork they did before, travelling around Ireland to find the creme de la creme of suppliers.

"It's not four months of work, at that point it's almost two years of work, so it is really nice to get that noticed and recognised." 

What will Michelin do 

If only for the sake of distraction, the question of what Michelin has in store for us this year always makes an appearance in conversation, as often does the idea that if anyone has the competence to put together a credible guide, it is Michelin.

"I know they haven't had as much time as they'd like to," Jordan said, "but I'm sure they're pulling out all the stops so they can try and get to as many restaurants as possible."

"With the restaurants that currently have stars that have had to change their dynamic within the restaurant to suit the current climate," he said, "I expect them to be a bit more understanding."

The chef said he'd like to think that "If a restaurant is doing takeaway, they're not going to knock them down because they have made changed to suit the current situation."

"I'm excited to see for sure, no less than any other year." 

For Majken the hope is that they'll have managed to unearth the new talent coming into the industry despite the circumstances.

"We need that, and our guests do as well - it's something to look forward to when we are open again." 

"There are new places popping up even when others are closing down, and I think that's so important."

Jordan concurred, and said: "You shouldn't completely erase 2020. Especially for people who've put in a lot of effort to keep things going." 

The year of Covid

Both have managed to keep their spirits lifted throughout the crisis, with shift after shift in their product in line with restrictions.

"We've learned so much, and we've figured out what we can do," Majken said, and even though they never would have dreamed about doing takeaway, she feels the experience of having to completely rebrand themselves has been incredibly enriching.

Plus, if nothing else, it has given them an extra bit of impetus to get back into the kitchen and do what they do best.

"We've changed what we've done over the last three-four lockdowns from doing a food truck, takeaway and now we're doing food boxes and heat at home - we would never had had the chance or even thought about doing this. It makes you appreciate what you normally do," Jordan said.

"It's fun," he added, "but it's not what we built this restaurant for, which is what we're slowly working back towards."

The focus, then, is to get back open and crack on with living out the life of their dreams.

"As it stands, we've been closed more than we've been open," Jordan said, so looking to the future his aspirations are simple: "just to get open for more than a year."

That means no new restaurants on the horizon, but "definitely a development kitchen," which had been planned for 2020 before everything went to pot.

"We haven't been doing it for ten years - we've only just started. So this is what we will be doing long term - we want to focus 110 percent on this."

This podcast was part of The Staff Canteen's new series of the Grilled podcast: Keeping it in the Family. Tune in to our Spotify, Soundcloud, or wherever you get your podcasts for the latest episodes. 

The previous episode featured chefs Chris and James Tanner, and the next in the series will be a conversation with Simon and George Bonwick, two members of the (almost whole) family to have founded and run the Crown at Burchetts Green.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 20th January 2021

'As it stands, we've been closed more than we've been open'