A space for Danish "Hygge" in Seoul

by A K Salling
Groove Korea (groovekorea.com)

Mad og Hygge

Although my name is Anne Katrine, everyone calls me AK. I was born in Korea and grew up in Denmark but have been living in Korea since 2013 after I decided to sell my apartment and quit my stable office job in Denmark to come and explore the peninsula. Since March this year, I have been running Mad og Hygge, a small Scandinavian cooking and baking studio in the Sinchon/Hongdae in Seoul.

The name Mad og Hygge is Danish for ‘Food and Coziness’. The cozy concept is a huge part of Danish culture and represents the social interaction that is synonymous with our food. It doesn’t really translate directly but Danes do it quite a lot. The Food – mad – is also a big part of our culture so the name of the place came quite easily to me. After any social event in Denmark, we often say “It has been cozy” instead of actually saying goodbye so it seemed to fit quite nicely.

Mad og Hygge was created by me to provide a space in Korea that could introduce Danish “hygge,” and its subsequent culture and foods to the local community here in Seoul. I teach those who visit the studio how to make traditional family-style dinners (just like my grandmother used to make them), and other main Danish staples and cakes which are made from natural ingredients only.

I did not initially plan to open a cooking studio and I wasn’t even looking for a space—

I just found the location by coincidence. When I saw the space (which was a candle making school before) I immediately envisioned a Scandinavian cooking studio there. I already knew Koreans who were running cooking studios so I knew it could work. My Scandinavian cultural roots, together with a recent increase in interest for Scandinavian culture in Korea, were my inspirations for opening the studio (aside from me missing certain foods and breads, of course).

Cooking Classes

Cooking and baking classes are small and personalized. In fact, sometimes a baking class can be run for just one person, whereas other times, the cooking classes have been absolutely packed. Since it is a small room, the shyness between all participants quickly vanishes. I especially love it when people in class click and really enjoy the cooking and socializing. There is usually a lot of laughing during classes and often people like to stay and chat after we are done. Then I know, the “hygge” has been achieved.

Participants are usually single, working Koreans or foreigners with an interest in or a connection to Scandinavia. These days a lot of young Koreans are very interested in visiting or living in Denmark so the dinners and classes are a great way for them to learn about Danish culture and their food traditions. About 50% of people coming here are Koreans and the other half are foreigners.

People who have already been to Scandinavia come because they want to learn how to make a certain type of bread or cake they have tried eating before or they come to talk about their passion for Scandinavia. Others again, might join just because they are curious to try something new.

As more and more people are single and live alone, cooking can sometimes seem like a lot of work and it can also be lonely and boring to eat alone. So once a week I host an ‘open dinner’ where everyone can join in, and help out a bit with cooking dinner before we eat together. It is a great way to meet new people and experience a typical Danish dinner. This concept is something I tried a lot in Denmark; it’s like a food club with various friends where we meet at each other’s homes, cook and eat together. It is a common thing in Denmark because we tend to visit each other at home rather than go out for dinner. Afternoon coffee, lunches and dinners can go on for hours because of the coziness that makes people want to stay, of course.

On a monthly basis, Mad Og Hygge has baking classes for parents and children. We bake simple things that don’t take too much time and, in my kitchen, the kids are allowed to play with the food. The huge benefit for the parents is that I clean up afterwards!

The kitchen can also be booked for private events such as school classes or those who would like to rent the space for their own events.

The classes are open for anyone who wants to join and doesn’t require any cooking experience or skills. The dishes and cakes are usually not super complicated therefore suitable for those who are baking for the first time.

I usually show how to cook the dish first and then the participants make it with my help. Because my Korean language skills are limited, I speak English most of the time but most participants enjoy the class even if they don’t speak a lot of English. Participants can choose to receive the recipe in English or Korean as I have a Korean part-time assistant who translates the recipes for me. People join in the classes because they can have a different cooking experience in a relaxed atmosphere and there are a lot of things to experience here.

The Future

For me it is quite special to have a space where I can show Koreans the culture and food I grew up with, and in this way, integrate my life in Korea with my own, very different cultural upbringing and background.

Throughout December, the cooking classes will be all about Christmas as it is the biggest holiday in Denmark with a lot of food traditions. People can join a Christmas cookie class, sweets classes, traditional Christmas party food-class, Christmas dinner-classes and paper cutting days where you can cut Christmas decorations to take home as well as try a special Christmas cake and drink.

Participants don’t have to bring anything except for their own drinks – Mad og Hygge provides everything else from aprons and cooking utensils to a print-out of the recipes for the cooks to take home.

More info: For participation, people can register on www.madoghygge.com, through Meet-up, Anispoon and email.

Times: Check the website for the schedule (updated weekly).

Private groups can book above classes as well by emailing book@madoghygge.com in advance.

Cost: Prices range from KRW 15,000 to KRW 55,000 (transfer needed before the class to confirm a space)

Address: Mad og Hygge Scandinavian Cooking and Baking Studio, Seoul, Mapo-gu Seogang-ro 11gil 35, #101

Email: book@madoghygge.com

Website: http://madoghygge.com/  http://anispoon.com/?lang=en


December schedule:

Wednesdays: Community dinner 7pm, cook, eat and “hyg” (have a cozy time)

Fridays from 12pm-6pm: Christmas Room – learn how to make a Danish Christmas snack, hot drinks and enjoy the goodies while making paper Christmas decorations to take home. Mad og Hygge provides materials and have easy stuff for children and challenging for adults!

Friday from 7.30 p.m.: learn how to create a wide range of toppings and condiments for open faced sandwiches for a Christmas party buffet, dessert and play Christmas games

Saturdays 10.30 a.m.: Bake Christmas cookies with your child – have a great time without all the stress of preparations and cleaning up

Sundays 12 p.m.: learn how to make an authentic Christmas dinner and dessert from scratch with all our traditional side dishes, play a traditional game and experience Danish Christmas

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