Chitchat with Johan Ringkrans

In our chitchat format, we meet someone we like and talk about food, drink, partying, atmosphere and the great life in the pub. This week we meet Johan Ringkrans who is the operations manager at Brasseriegruppens pubs on Norr Mälarstrand. He's standing in the hatch in the middle of the service, cooking, when we come with a bunch of curious questions. Johan offers us well-aged parmesan and tells us about life.

Hi Johan! Tell us about yourself and your background.
I started in the restaurant business in 1999 and worked at Eriks Bakficka, Villa Källhagen and Divino, among others. Then I started in Brasseriegruppen at Il Tempo and eventually Café Milano. Six years ago, Filip and Daniel (Brasseriegruppens owners) decided to buy Trattorian and I ended up here, first as a chef, but then I made the move to become the operations manager for all three restaurants here.

You'll spin three places and we'll see you cooking in the kitchen, talking to guests, painting floors, fixing guests' heels and a hundred other things. Tell us about your role!
Ultimately, I am financially responsible for these three restaurants. And it's my responsibility to make sure we continue to develop the product we've inherited. My focus is to keep the wills of many people together - so that we stay within the bounds of what is Trattorian. But if cleaning toilets, sitting in negotiations with suppliers or washing dishes is what it takes - well, that's part of my job too!

You run this place like you own it - the way you wish all employees did at their jobs. What's the driving force?
I never dreamed of opening my own tavern. However, I've always had a lot of trust from my owners. For me, freedom is important, it should be fun! I'd rather have fun and feel freedom in my context - than make lots of money. I go in with my person, I'm here, I work, I care. I want my waiters to see this as their living room and that everyone who comes in here is their guest. My image of Trattorian is very clear.

If you weren't working at the pub, what would you be doing?
Wow... I can't do anything else. But something creative where you got to work with your body and hands, maybe gardening?

You often talk about the heritage of Trattoria and how important it is that we manage it.
What is heritage?
In the beginning when Brasseriegruppen took over, we had lots of different thoughts and ideas - it was going to be a Tuscan farm and lots of other things. But then we backtracked. How did Melker Andersson think and create Trattorian in the first place? He had created an exciting and broad menu. There were some dishes in the higher price range, but also really good pasta dishes for 140 SEK, which created a unique mix of guests. You should feel at home both on a date and at a large family dinner for twenty people. It all goes together. There should be something for everyone, it should be popular, accessible and guests should want to come here often.

What do you like best about the pub?
From the beginning it was all life around the restaurants - the pub life is like a big youth centre. This whole life is incredibly fun. You're a team and you work as a team going forward. I love the community.

Which dish on the menu do you cook best?
It would have to be maccheroini with hand-cut macaroni, truffles, lemon and parmesan. It's actually one of the few dishes I've come up with - and I've picked it around in every restaurant I've worked in. The funny thing is that most of them still have it on the menu.

How much fun do you have at work?
If I work six days, at least four of them should be fun - otherwise you should probably think about moving on. I'm always at least four fun days a week, usually more!

What are your summer plans?
It will be a trip to the West Coast and maybe a trip in the forests of Värmland. I'll be fishing, cooking good food and taking it easy.

What are you drinking this summer?
A lot of rosé wine. Then it's Negroni and the occasional Hugo or Aperol Spritz.

What do you want your guests to feel when they leave one of your establishments?
That they have experienced a pleasant ambience and feel looked after. I don't think guests remember exactly what they ate or drank or that a waiter was standing straight in the back.... But I believe in the overall feeling - that they feel they want to come back.

Last week when we were here, Zlatan was sitting at one of the tables at Orangeriet. Honestly, were you starstruck?
Haha, no absolutely not. He's a normal person and he was here to eat well and have a good time. Not for a chef to come up and take a picture. However, I did tell the football team I coach, a bunch of 15 year old boys, that evening. They wanted to know what he ate, haha!

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