NORDIC FOOD REPUBLIC by Niels
Born on a small farm in northern Denmark and believing, until the age of 18, that I should become a farmer is most likely the origin of my late-in-life aspiration to become a food entrepreneur and having an impact on how we eat, live and enjoy life.
My parents’ farm was organic before the word was even invented. We had everything around us on our six hectares – cows, pigs, horses, chickens and a kitchen garden with everything we needed for the household. Fruit trees and berry bushes also had an important role in feeding the family.
For many reasons, my life took another direction as I became a joiner and worked with wood and wood products for more than 40 years. Working with wood taught me to appreciate and respect natural resources and how much beauty you can extract from nature. Whatever you produce then becomes much more sustainable.
I always regarded life as a ‘train station’ where trains of opportunities continuously arrive and leave. One of these trains took me to Lithuania for the first time in 1999 and since 2012 the bandwagon has been parked solidly in Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital. Besides taking residence in another country, for the first time I also became a city boy, which eventually took me on a completely different path.
From now on I will change ‘I’ to ‘we’, as everything from this point will include members of different teams in different parts of our operations.
As a bonus from entering the property business, we became the owner of a place that was already prepared for a restaurant and from this point the food journey took off.
As the first member of our group of companies, Nordic Food Republic is currently represented by brands such as restaurant Nineteen18(www.Nineteen18.lt), 14Horses brasserie (www.14horses.lt), Sofija bar (www.sofijabar.lt)and 14Horses Uptown (www.14horses-uptown.lt). We are consistently developing our skills and strive to make our guests feel almost like they’rereturning home, an experience that at the same time turns out to be like “the long awaited and appreciated guest”.
One important discovery occurred – the lack of a supply chain when it came to a quality supply of raw materials in the restaurant business. This initiated the idea of having our own farm to produce the majority of the items that eventually go on the table in our restaurants, as well as to make what we produce available for consumers in general.
In spring 2018, we acquired a beautiful 500-hectare farm located one hour’s drive from Vilnius. The location close to Vilnius is important as we are aiming to avoid a negative environmental impact as much as possible. The philosophy of the farm is not only going organic; we believe sustainability is equal to responsibility in all our actions. Working with nature, not against it, is key to our operations.
The farm will be open to the public and serve touristic as well as educational purposes, and what’s better for ensuring transparency than being ‘inspected and approved by consumers’ on location?
The next wheel on the wagon for our restaurant, farm and market is a food court project located in the very heart of the Old Town of Vilnius. The ambition is to help local producers of value-added products to showcase their products and sell them in a consumer market, a Farmers’ Circle, as it is also intended to be an add-on attraction to what Vilnius already offers to locals and tourists.