Andrea Uzarowski spent more than two decades dreaming of opening a bakery. But first, she had to work at Noma, the beloved Copenhagen eatery.
She also had to do some time as an investment banker in New York. And move to the States from her native Denmark on more than one occasion. And deal with more than her fair share of sexist hazing as she honed her craft and rose the ranks in kitchens across Europe and the U.S.
Just over a month ago, Uzarowski opened Süti and Co. in a marvelous former house just off 16th and Pearl Street. Spread over two intimate hangout rooms, a serving counter and an inviting patio, the bakery and coffee shop serve a range of pastries alongside shelves of hand-selected home goods.
The süti — which Uzarowski describes as “a little sweet treat at the end of the day” — are plentiful here. Six staples, all named after significant people in Uzarowski’s life, are joined by a rotating cast of delectables suited both to season and whimsy. Classic coffee drinks — with beans from Boxcar Coffee Roasters — are joined by a matcha latte, a pistachio latte and a must-try honey latte.
“I have said for the longest time that I would open a bakery dedicated to my grandmother,” says Uzarowski. Well before her career in some of the globe’s more forward-thinking kitchens, Uzarowski grew up cooking and baking with her grandmother, Magdalena. Many of her current recipes come straight from the food-stained pages of a hand-embroidered binder with recipes that were handwritten by both Magdalena and Uzarowski’s great-grandmother, Kathryn.
“I remember when some of the spots on the page happened,” Uzarowski says, noting that she recently came across a page marked with tear drops she recalls dripping onto the surface. Many of the recipes are generations in the making, with early recipes from Kathryn marked by Magdalena’s notes and alterations.
Uzarowski’s recipes are highly guarded: “I will not give you my recipe unless you promise not to deviate. Guess how many recipes I’ve given away. Zero,” she grins, noting that she will sometimes write out new ideas in Danish just to keep potential copycats off the scent. It’s clear that everything about Süti & Co — from the hand-painted flowers Uzarowski applied to the front entryway down to the cookie names — is highly personal. The Magdalena — a shortbread with fig jam and walnut topping — is of course a tribute to Uzarowski’s grandma, with the Lilly — a chocolate shortbread filled with chocolate ganache and then dipped in chocolate — named after her daughter.
“I grew up with food that let me know that what we eat now is not what we should be eating,” Uzarowski says of growing up in Copenhagen. “We grew everything, harvested everything, pickled everything, preserved everything.” Everything at Süti and Co. is made with Danish butter and locally-milled flour.
The chef’s first visit to the United States came in the form of a student exchange in Detroit during her senior year of high school. “I vowed I would never come back,” she says with a laugh. Though she would return years later to kick-start her career as an investment banker. “I learned to run with the wolves.”
The work was soul-cleaving, so Uzarowski found an escape in her love of cooking. “I’m a chef by heart and by trade,” she beams. Still in The Big Apple, she began working in kitchens, experiencing the kind of unsavory initiations she hopes to be more symptomatic of the era than they are now. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard ‘a woman’s place is not in the kitchen,’” she says.
Even as chefs loaded her with the most mundane unpleasantries they could muster, Uzarowski remained undaunted. “The mistake people make is they underestimate me.”
After returning to Copenhagen, Uzarowski began what would become a two-year stint at Noma, the three-Michelin-star restaurant run by internationally acclaimed chef Rene Redzepi. Opened in 2003, Noma made a global splash for its New Nordic cuisine that pushed the boundaries of gastronomic heights. Uzarowski says she and Redzepi bonded over the experience of being an immigrant working in kitchens, he coming from Macedonia and she just returning from her somewhat harrowing experience in New York.
“It was a completely fair and level playground. It was OK to be creative. It was OK to come up with ideas that didn’t come to fruition,” says Uzarowski, noting that Noma was integral to the development of a creative approach that has defined her career ever since. “I like to play with my food.”
Since returning stateside, Uzarowski has worked as the executive chef at an athletic club in Iowa City, taught at Johnson and Wales in Denver, overseen the catering department at the University of Colorado and acted as the executive chef for A Spice of Life Catering in Boulder. She currently runs her own catering company, the acutely client-driven Fresh Food Further, which boasts patrons like Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson and actor Tom Cruise.
While Süti & Co. now only operates as a daytime cafe, Uzarowski plans to introduce a dinner series before the end of the year. “With all the good vibes, I want to share it in the evenings,” she says.
This holiday season, Uzarowski will be selling ornate cookie boxes complete with a selection of treats that are and will remain unavailable outside of what is set to be an annual tradition. This year’s box will feature cover art by Scandinavian artist Annie Bailey, and will be filled with morsels dedicated to six different women who have been important to Uzarowski’s life and particularly the development of Süti & Co. “These are not the cookies you should give to your children,” she laughs, noting each one’s particular intricacies. Boxes will be available for pickup between Nov. 20 and Dec. 20.
Considering Uzarowski’s high-profile career, Süti & Co. feels like a quiet triumph and a victory lap that the whole town can enjoy.