How did they manage to get it restored?
Looking for a skilled oven builder was a challenge, Louise Sebro tells me. Luckily, she caught the interest of the Danish oven builder, Hans Dines Schmidt, from Christiansfeld in Jutland. His family once emigrated from the German province of Saxony, close to the border of the Czech Republic. It is a mountainous region, which requires good ovens to survive the long winters there. For nine generations, the Schmidt family has been practicing and improving the craft of creating the Christiansfelder Kakkeloven, a brand that aims to produce the most efficient and environmentally conscious heat there is. They also restore all kind of antique ovens and stoves and own the most incredible collection I have ever seen in my life. Hans lives his profession. “Grandpa used to say: the workplace should always be a bit more comfortable than the couch,” he tells me with a big smile while showing me around his showroom, located in the heart of Christiansfeld, which is under Unesco Heritage protection.
Hans Dines Schmidt seemed to be the perfect match for the task. “Honestly, it was a lot of work, more than I expected it to be. But I am glad I have gotten the chance to do it. I really wanted the job,” he says. Despite having seen a wide variety of antique ovens, this one was a total exception: “It was very exciting to be able to restore such a unique oven with so many fireplaces and nine cooking places. I have never seen one made of such thick iron,” he says. “It could be a hint that the original manufacturer was not very experienced at the time it was manufactured.” Otherwise, he concludes that the manufacturer would have built it with a thinner layer, which would have been much more financially advantageous. Also unusual are the exposed chimney pipes, typically concealed beneath the oven.
Within the restoration process, which took about two months of work, Hans Dines Schmidt and his wife, who is also an oven builder, were able to figure out more information about the role of this charming iron beast. Although the original receipt of the purchase from the landlord wasn’t found, they were able to define its sophisticated character, as Louise Sebro explains to me.
According to old records, when the house was modernized in the 1850s to have a classical façade, the kitchen remained untouched. “This hints that the oven must have been quite modern, sort of ahead of its time. This means there was no need to replace it when the whole house got a general overhaul,” Louise Sebro says. Hence, this oven exemplifies a spectacular change in eating habits for mankind. For a long time, meat was prepared on an open fire. But, for the first time in mankind’s history, such an oven allowed us to roast meat for hours and keep the juice in it. “It paved the way towards the Christmas roast tradition, as we know it today.”