Kate Kamil Camille
I’m Kate Kamil Camille, and I’ve run Kate’s Joint in Blågårdsgade for around 30 years. I grew up in Ishøj but spent most of my childhood in Copenhagen and Nørrebro, as my mum always had various shops in town. She had a grill/fast food takeaway joint where my restaurant is now. Back then the street was mostly filled with bodegas and the shop attracted a good mix of squatters, punks, local kids and bodega guests.
I was 17 when I opened the joint. I was tired of school and my mum told me that if I dropped out I had to do something else. Something bigger. I didn’t know how to cook, so my grandmother helped me. Every week I learned a new dish from her.
YOU EAT SOMETHING - AND IT FILLS YOU UP
In the beginning we only had three tables and six chairs. People didn’t have a lot of money and it wasn’t common to go out to eat. However, I quickly realized that there was a simple need for a plate of real, good, simple food: You eat it, and it fills you up. That also means that I feel really shitty about price increases. For example, there is no way that my dahl can cost more than 100 kroner. I just can’t live with that. I know how much that serving of hot, good food means to a lot of people.
THERE IS NO FACADE
Quickly a group of regular guests formed, and many of them still come. We humans need constants in our life. We need places where we can just come and be. In the joint you don’t need to jump on the latest food trends and be fancy with your avocado toast. You can just relax.
As a host my most important task is to create a space where people feel comfortable. I have a lot of customers coming in alone and they need to feel welcome and not in the way. When you walk into the joint you feel like you are in a home: Pots, pans, wires, tools and appliances are all showing. There is no facade hiding anything, and then you don’t have to put one up either.
REAL LIFE IS RIGHT OUTSIDE YOUR WINDOW
You’ll never get an Aperol Spritz in my place. I feel it’s an overcommercialized drink that makes people think they have the perfect life. I’d rather have them look out the window and see real life. It’s right there in Blågårdsgade. The poet Søren Ulrik Thomsen called it “The Blue Corridor” in one of his poems, because all the traffic from the other areas of Copenhagen passes right through. You’ll see all types of people here, you’ll see old ladies talking to gang members. Maybe we don’t agree about everything, but when we meet in the street, we need to have a truce. I like that.
PASS ON THE GOOD
Carrying kindness to me means passing on to others the good we have learned or understood.That’s how the joint started for me, thanks to my grandmother.