Four years ago, armed with modest savings and a love of porridge, a 21-year-old man started a business on Jægersborggade in Nørrebro that would go on to become a movement. Today, with two more stores and a thriving retail enterprise, his business Grød can rightly be called a success.
Lasse Andersen is the restless soul behind the Grød movement. What he offers is more than just porridge – it is a whole new concept that is redefining porridge.
“Porridge is a meal present in many cultures around the world, and in Denmark we have a very broad definition of the word,” explained Andersen.
“Despite its long tradition here and being part of our culture, it’s usually connected with something you have when you are sick or when you don’t have much money. I thought it was really sad that people had such a narrow vision of what porridge is. My vision was to show the world that porridge is something different from what you think.”
Love blossoms in London
Andersen’s self-professed love of porridge started when he was a teenager. At the age of 14, he started experimenting in the kitchen, playing around with different flavours and spices. “I became addicted,” Andersen explained.
And then in 2010, he moved to London to study music and encountered a whole new porridge scene. Andersen was fascinated by the porridge-to-go options, which he found all over the city, normally for just 20kr a portion. He realised it was his mission to bring high-quality porridge back to Denmark.
“Denmark is a porridge nation, but at that time we weren’t selling it at the stores. It was more something you did at home,” continued Andersen. “So I thought to myself: what is porridge? It’s about something that is cooked together based on grain or oats with texture. But it is always associated with something sweet. And that was where I found an open door.”
Seeing this opportunity, he decided to introduce a new concept, introducing savoury porridge ranges like risotto, Asian-inspired congee and Indian dal, which can be eaten for lunch or dinner as well as breakfast.
Bravely digging in
Without having any experience, he moved back to Denmark and decided to open a shop. “I didn’t know anything about anything, just that I loved porridge”, he said.
People who knew him were sceptical about his idea, but Andersen was bold enough to take the risk.
“I had some savings (about 30,000 euros) and I risked it all on the shop. I didn’t know what the reaction would be, but I knew I had a good product to offer,” said Andersen.
Grød was an immediate success and only half a year later he recovered his investment. “Copenhagen is still really a small city, so new concepts sometimes are not accepted. I feel blessed that it turned out like it did and I am really happy people believed in the concept,” he said.
Within two years, the Grød Instant Porridge range went on to sell at 200 7-Eleven stores across Denmark and later at 600 Albert Heijn stores in the Netherlands. “It’s at the moment the most profitable part of the business,” confirmed Andersen.
But for Andersen it was not all about the money: freedom was his main goal. He wants to have time for his life, to still play music in his free time. His ambition wasn’t to open a chain of 20 shops all at once. Besides, he doesn’t want to compromise the product. He wants to keep it local with organic and high-quality ingredients to provide his customers with the best porridge.
Learning on the hob
Andersen contends his experience was based on learning by doing. He admits it would have helped him at the start to have an education related to the food market, but he persevered. “It takes four years to become a chef and it took me just one year to be a businessman, a chef, and a leader,” he said.
He plans to spread his vision across the world and hopes in the future he can open a store in a cosmopolitan city like New York.
“Grød has the potential to be a global concept,” he concluded.