Jens Dahlberg – a kitchen chef, a bartender, a bar owner, a bar manager and a machine!

I had the pleasure of meeting Jens during my short visit to Stockhoma and I was very happy to have a few words with him and try some of his cocktails.
Including “Clever and Tonic”, which recipe you can find in my previous post at Instagram.
Jens began his career as a chef, but now seems to be a multi-task machine for special tasks in the catering industry.
How did it all start and what stages did Jens go through to become so high in ranks of hospitality?
You will find out from my interview with him.

1. How has your adventure with bartending started, and why have You decided to stay on this career path?

I’ve been in this business since i was 15, started out as a dishwasher and then became a chef. About 9 years ago I came back to Stockholm from a Summer job and didn’t find any job that I found challenging and fun. My best friend was a bar manager at that time and he asked me if I wanted to work in the bar, so I did

I just love the industry and the hospitality business that much I can’t think doing anything else

2. Tell us the story behind opening your first bar and why was it so new and unusual on the Swedish bar scene at that time.

It all started with a couple of friends. We were tired of working for others and not being listened to. Let’s start our own bar we thought and do whatever the f%*k we want. But we had no money and we didn’t have a money man to help us out. Because we thought we needed a ton of money. So I let that idea go for a while but one of my friends didn’t, he went on the hunt for a venue that didn’t cost so much money. After a couple of years, he found one and the other three of my friends bought it (because I was out of the picture) from bank loans without any insurance (high mortgage) and started renovating the place. One of them worked extra in the same bar as me and I heard how it all went and so on. They came to a point where they ran low on money and needed some before they could open up the place. This is where I come in the picture, I took a meeting with the guys and asked if I wanted to join in. Didn’t hesitate for a second, went on my phone and applied for a loan and the next day I was a partner of the bar.

I think we opened up people’s minds a bit, that you don’t need a lot of money in your bank to open a bar, just ask the bank for a loan 🙂

3. You’ve participated in numerous competitions under many brands. Can You name the most memorable experience during all these years of competing – one on a positive and one on a negative side ?

Think is was the one I won. It was called Black Box Challenge. Basically it is a super creative competition where you get a Black box with ingredients you haven’t seen before and you have to make 2 cocktails in 20min and in the finals you hade to make 7 cocktails in 50min. This I puts a bartender on its edge in their creative skills, this is what I think is a very important skill a bartender needs to have.

4. You have fulfilled many of the big dreams of every bartender. What keeps You going nowadays? What motivates You and drives You now? Do You have any particular goals nowadays?

I’m always looking for a challenge and that is probably why I took on the manager role here at Tak. I hade (past tense, due to Covid I had to let a lot of people go) a team of 14 bartenders and 6 bar backs and that is very challenging to get everything running smoothly. Maybe opening another bar would be fun-ish 🙂

5.How would You define differences on the Swedish bar scene before Covid and now? Have there been any major changes to the way hospitality operates? Any big openings, closing on the cocktail bar scene?

Before the scene in Sweden was booming but it isn’t going bad either nowadays. A lot of the smaller bar in Sweden are getting more support from people due to that they don’t want them to close and also because Swede ́s can’t travel anymore so they spend money in bars and restaurants. The bigger bars are struggling and all clubs are closed because of the restrictions, Our restrictions say that you can not be standing and drinking at the same time, you must have a seat. No crowding in the bar and so on.

We have seen some new restaurants opening up, that scene is booming right now.

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