Global Baker and Great Kiwi Bake Off judge Dean Brettschneider is living the post-lockdown dream in Denmark
When did you move to Denmark?
I moved to Denmark in 2010 to be with my Danish partner (now wife). However, if you asked her, I never lived in Denmark, it was just a place to come to and stay for 10 days a month while I was building my global baking empire based out of Singapore. This year in June, when I sold the majority of my business, I moved full time to Denmark and became a Danish resident.
What is your favourite thing about Copenhagen?
I love the design aspects of the Danish lifestyle. There are no compromises when it comes to the minimalistic modern design of the Danish home. It has something to do with their famous word hygge (pronounced "hoo-gah"), which is a word for a mood of cosiness and comfortable conviviality, with feelings of wellness and contentment.
What was Denmark's Covid-19 response like?
Ah well – the Danes really trust their leaders and, as a country, their culture is about conforming (there are no tall poppies here!) so when it came to locking down, they did. Eventually, people wanted more freedom and the Government agreed but ensured people could get their daily Covid-19 test (for free, but there is a reason why you pay 65 per cent tax at the top end). This August the country dropped all Covid-19 restrictions, but they have a fantastic vaccination programme and have been well ahead in that department for many months.
Tell us about your recent adventure to the Greek Islands.
After getting married on May 1, this was our honeymoon, so in essence, there was no expense spared. We had 10 days of pure luxury, flying into Athens for two days of private sightseeing, which was awesome given the lack of tourists. We visited the usual tourist sights but the highlight was the almost unlimited access to the Acropolis. We were up there at 8am on the most beautiful day and it felt like we were the only ones there.
Next was Santorini for three days of luxury accommodation perched on the iconic clifftop of Oia with our own private unobstructed view. We also toured the island in a private yacht, which included unlimited swimming, eating and finally sailing into the famous Santorini sunset.
It was then back to Athens for an awesome evening at one-star Michelin restaurant Spondi – a super meal in an amazing setting and we considered it our wedding/honeymoon dinner. The Greek food really did surprise us at the top end, equalling some of the best food in the world.
The next day we helicoptered to Porto Heli – it was amazing to fly over the many small Greek Islands located close to the mainland. We stayed in a private villa at the amazing Amanzoe resort, which was the highlight of the vacation. The private beach club was sublime and so tranquil you hardly knew anyone else was there.
You've recently travelled to the UK. How was the trip?
I visited London to see my son Jason. I hadn't seen him in more than a year after he came to Denmark in August 2020, before the UK went into travel lockdown. One of the main reasons to visit was also to catch up on the renovations to his Brixton house. In my time there 30 years ago, Brixton simply wasn't a place to venture if you fancied getting back out unscathed, but it's becoming super popular with great food, artisan cafes and a cultural buzz. While keeping the charm and cultural diversity of Old Brixton.
What's your top tip for a beginner baking bread in lockdown?
A key tip for baking (particularly bread) is following the process and taking your time. Most baking isn't like cooking a piece of fish, "couple of minutes in the pan and it's done". So, spend time on the kneading process. If you knead it correctly, the chance of a great loaf is possible. And remember to have fun in baking – it's not a life or death situation.
Any advice for Kiwis still in lockdown?
Everyone's situation is different, but baking is absolutely one way of filling in a few hours (or at least half a day!) from start to finish, then enjoying with your bubble over a cup of tea/coffee. Or, if it's bread, turn it into part of your daily evening meal, like the French do, and try to create your very own Kiwi hygge that becomes a part of your life.
Dean Brettschneider is a judge on the new season of The Great Kiwi Bake Off, premiering Thursday, October 14, TVNZ 1