Select your country

Rebels of Tradition

Mr Hugo Hall

Chef, entrepreneur, and host of good times

Every city needs a Hugo Hall. He’s a tireless force who’s always on to something new – a new dish or cocktail, or an entirely new place – all while keeping his guests well fed, entertained, and with something good in their glass. As a good host, he also knows the importance of looking stylish: “My imaginary idea of elegance is a poor aristocrat who leaves the family estate to move to London to play in a rock band. An old tweed blazer worn with a t-shirt and black jeans kind of look.”

He’s a man of style, but first and foremost, Hugo sees himself as a chef – a lover of both cooking and eating. Together with a few other like-minded entrepreneurs, Hugo runs Champagnebaren, a fish restaurant-cum-bubbly bar, a cocktail bar called Bruno, and a jazz club called Unity Jazz. He also imports and sells Champagne and wine, primarily from smaller producers. All of these places are located in Gothenburg, Sweden, at the same address: Kyrkogatan 13. Write it down!

Hugo’s road to Kyrkogatan 13 was anything but straight: “First, I wanted to become an art director, but they throw me out of that school because I was too intense and too much trouble, I guess,” he says. Cooking had been his passion for many years, and restaurant kitchens are open to all kinds of recluses and troublemakers, as long as you’re willing to work hard and show that you really care about the profession. As such, he landed on his feet at Sjömagasinet, the legendary upscale fish restaurant in Gothenburg. “It was a lot of chopping onions and potatoes, but I was blown away by the experience,” he remembers. “I came into this profession relatively late, at 25, but instantly felt that this was what I wanted to do with my life.”

Something all of Hugo’s places have in common is that they challenge preconceived ideas. “I’m terrible with rules – I have to question everything,” he says. “It’s a good and a bad thing, I guess.” For instance: why does a Champagne bar have to be fancy and exclusive? Instead, everything that happens at Kyrkogatan 13 is about including and inviting more people in, to become lovers of grower Champagne, fresh seafood, well-made cocktails or jazz. “When we opened Unity Jazz, I had no relation to jazz music, but owning a jazz club sounded too dreamy to not jump on it.”

In its perfect form, Kyrkogatan 13 is the perfect evening. Start with Champagne and something to eat at Champagnebaren, then move to Unity Jazz for a live performance, then on to Bruno for cocktails and dancing. “Being a chef might be my profession,” says Hugo, “but what I love is being a host – making others have a good time.”

Where are you
and what are
you doing?

I’m south of Gothenburg, in Onsala with my
parents, cooking a Sunday roast. The pig came
from my cousin Oscar who raises Mangalica pigs.

What do you want to
change and challenge?

The Swedish laws for serving and selling alcohol.

Is it important to have a
unique style or expression?

Is there anything better than a perfectly cooked turbot on the bone, with beurre blanc and an old white Burgundy? No. Is it unique? Not really. But when everything works out – when you’re floored by the food, whether it's a dish that has been around for 100 years or some New Nordic fuss, the wine, the service, the atmosphere, the music, the guests, everything – then yes, it is unique, because it's damn hard to do. And very few succeed.

Who are your heros?

Marco Pierre White and Jim Morrison. And Jamie Oliver, who taught me to cook at the age of 13 – though not personally, unfortunately..

What's a great outfit according to
Hugo Hall?

Jeans, a white t-shirt, a brown dogtooth tweed jacket
and Vans or brown suede tassel loafers.

What's your ideal
imaginary restaurant?

Right now I dream of a hole in the wall in Sicily that only serves arancini and Aperol Spritz in plastic glasses.
Guests sit on the street, eat with their hands and watch the sun set over the sea.

What’s on your short- and
long-term to-do list?

Short term: make sure the restaurants survive the pandemic. In the mid-term, I want to open my dream hotel and a market hall. Long-term, I want a pig farm
and to grow vegetables in Spain.

What excites you right now?

The sauna.

What’s one thing everyone should
know about Hugo Hall?

I know all the lyrics of Ebba Grön

[a Swedish punk band in the 70s and 80s].