Betty Bachz, model and creator of Møy Atelier, talks to Ravinder Bhogal about discovering the beginnings of her business in a plate of hand-dived Norwegian scallops
Journalist. Cook. Author.
In 2017, Norway was voted the happiest country in the world, but in a small campus room at the Norwegian School of Economics in Bergen that joy was eluding Betty Bachz. The model and creator of irreverent eyewear brand Møy Atelier was about to sit her final-year exams and was filled with angst.
“I was deeply unhappy,” she says, “Bergen is beautiful, but it can be really gloomy too. There was constant, dense rain and it felt like the tired and painful end of a complicated love affair with the city.”
I imagine her sitting at her desk, willowy and poised, cheekbones jutting out in magnificent symmetry, the curtains in front of her floating and exhaling to expose the bleak landscape of the concrete campus in the fast-draining daylight.
“I knew that, post-exams, I would most likely get a job in banking and while that would be financially rewarding and accomplished, I felt my creativity was being suffocated,” she explains. “The future felt banal. I needed to do something fun and get out of my funk and that humid room full of textbooks.”
Around that time Bachz had an encounter with a vibrant stranger she immediately knew she would be friends with for life. She wasn’t wrong – Torunn Lovise Gullaksen is her business partner and the co-founder of Møy Atelier. Like its more ostentatious relative, romantic love, friendship can be wildly chemical and instantaneous. “It was a she-mance,” Betty explains, “and we set about planning an exuberant first date. We dressed up to the nines – me in a floor-length red Gucci number, her in an emerald green silk gown.”
The two of them got on a boat, united in mirth, giggling as heads turned in admiration at their maximalist midday dress. They sailed to a fancy restaurant with spectacular views of the fjord and mountains. The space was ingeniously simple - a place for gorgeous, unhurried glamour, and a price tag to match.
“It was more than either of us could afford but we just thought to hell with it! I remember how sunny it was that day. The shafts of light were blinding us and we both spoke about how it was a shame there weren’t any sunglasses we could have worn to match up to our glamorous dresses.”
‘Møy’, she tells me, is the Norse word for young girl. “It alludes to someone who is a virgin in spirit and mind – who sees the world through virgin eyes - and that is exactly what we were in that moment.” Betty ate the seafood tasting menu, washed down with swigs of good Prosecco, but was particularly struck by the scallop. Its pure marine taste was slick and simple, and it was beautifully presented, too, with colourful edible flowers.
Of that moment she remembers perfection and elation; a belief in her own invincibility and a confidence that shocked her. “Looking back, I appreciate how special that day was,” she says. “Somewhere in the unreality of that oddly sunny day, in that strange poetic light, with that beautifully-presented scallop in front of me – the genesis of Møy Atelier was taking place and a friendship was turning into a creative partnership.”
Serves two as a starter
4 scallops, shucked on the half-shell
A drizzle of rapeseed oil
Sea salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon of sour cream
2 teaspoons yuzu
Zest of one lime
A pinch of togarashi or chilli flakes
A handful of kale, finely shredded
Rapeseed Oil to fry
Sea salt and a pinch of caster sugar to season
Edible flowers to garnish, if desired
To make the avocado purée, process the avocado, sour cream, yuzu juice, togarashi, lime zest and a large pinch of salt in a blender until smooth. Check seasoning and refrigerate until required.
Half-fill a small pan with oil and bring up to heat, ready for deep frying. Fry the kale till it’s crisp – this should take no more than 30 seconds. Drain on kitchen paper, season with salt and sugar, and toss.
Heat a pan until it’s very hot. Season the scallops with salt and pepper, and drizzle over with a little oil. Sear on the hot pan for one minute on each side. To serve, spoon the puree onto the clean scallop shell and place the scallop on top. Scatter over the fried kale – along with the edible flowers, if using – and serve at once.