from cellar restaurant
to michelin star*
Operakällaren first opened up in the autumn of 1787 in the brand new opera house King Gustaf III had built.
Operakällaren first opened up in the autumn of 1787 in the brand new opera house King Gustaf III had built. It was a typical contemporary cellar tavern, with simple furniture and stairs leading straight down from the dressing rooms of the opera singers. During the 1860’s the wine cellar had been transformed into a modern and international urban restaurant, with tablecloths and wall panels. The restaurant director also started inviting ladies to Operakällaren and introduced the modernity of serving coffee. Preserved from that time are the sculptured wall panels in the Buffet Room, next to the Main Dining Room.
In the late 19th century, a decision was made to demolish Gustaf III’s opera house in order to build a new one, better equipped to perform the grand operas by Wagner and Verdi. The new Operakällaren was inaugurated 4 April, 1895. The owners of the time were the Steinwall brothers. After a short while, they realised that the only way of competing with the neighbouring restaurants at Hotell Rydberg and Grand Hôtel was by adding a bar. The Opera Bar was opened up in 1905, its interior decorated in the then trendy Art Nouveu style. It quickly became popular with artists and intellectuals.
Coming into the 50’s, Operakällaren was very run down and the restaurant had been operated with great losses for several years. The most renowned restaurateur in Stockholm, Tore Wretman, who was already managing Riche and Stallmästaregården was asked to operate the “national monument” Operakällaren. His deal with the Opera declared that “The new Operakällaren would be remade into a restaurant that in all aspects would outshine all Nordic competitors and thus become the premium restaurant of its kind within the Nordic region.”
The architects were Peter Celsing and Nils Tesch. The renovation work took 6 years and Operakällaren was reinaugurated in August 1961. Werner Vögeli, the then sous chef at Grand Hôtel, was considered to be the only one who could shoulder the role of Chef des Cuisines in this gastronomic temple. A large and by every standard very modern kitchen was built, big enough to cater for 1.000 guests at the same time. The opening night on 21 September 1961 was a tremendous party. Around thousand guests had manage to get reservations and dinner was served all over the building. In all areas the guests were entertained by the opera artists as well as legendary entertainer Karl Gerhard.
Shortly after the inauguration, Werner Vögeli catered for the first time to the Swedish Court, 10 years later he was appointed Royal Chef des Cuisines. Alessandro Catenacci took over the Tore Wretman Restaurants Group in December 1987 and has actively cared for that Operakällaren’s trademark “Tradition & Quality” successfully has been combined with innovation and improvement. Today’s Chef des Cuisines Stefano Catenacci is now responsible for all banquets at the Royal Castle and Operakällaren has been appointed Purveyor to H.M. the King. In 1997 Operakällaren was honoured with one star in prestigious Guide Michelin and five red ‘Couvert symbols’, crossed forks and spoons.