Expat in Sweden: Inspiring Journey of Jean Henkel Culinary Innovator

Embarking on the journey to expat in Sweden is a rite of passage that many young adventurers dream about. It’s a decision that promises new beginnings, challenges, and the invaluable chance to weave the rich tapestry of global cultures into the fabric of one’s personal and professional life.

At the heart of this transformative experience lies the quest for a deeper understanding of oneself and the world, a desire that has driven countless individuals to leave the familiar behind in search of something more.

Jean Henkel’s expat in Sweden story is a vibrant illustration of this pursuit, embodying the courage, resilience, and relentless spirit of exploration that defines the expat lifestyle.

Born in the tiny city of Novo Hamburgo, Brazil, Jean, now 46, has carved out a remarkable existence in the serene landscapes of Gothenburg, Sweden.

His journey from a marketing student and insurance company employee in Brazil to the distinguished owner of two of Gothenburg’s premier restaurants, Carbon and Buteco, reflects a profound transformation spurred by the decision to embrace change and chase his dreams across continents.

jean henkel - Expat in Sweden

In an exclusive interview, Jean shares his inspiring journey, offering insights into the motivations that propelled him on a journey as an expat from Brazil to Sweden, the challenges and triumphs of adapting to a new culture, and his aspirations for the future.

His narrative is not just a story of personal achievement but a roadmap for anyone contemplating a bold leap into the unknown.

Jean Henkel’s interview – Expat in Sweden

Hi Jean, nice to meet you! Can you tell us what motivated you to make this significant life change?

Hi everyone! So, a couple of friends from Novo Hamburgo, Giuliano Kolling and Luciano Lopes, moved to London in 2002 and made it really clear that I should do the same.

And since then, have there been any significant changes in your life?

Back in those days, I was attending University UNISINOS, studying marketing and also working for an insurance company, and conducting a couple of vocal groups in the region. It was a massive change, and the goal in London was to learn English and study music.

The funds ran out quickly, and I started working in a restaurant as a kitchen porter, eventually becoming a line chef after one year. That’s where everything changed. Nowadays, I own 2 restaurants, Carbon and Buteco, currently ranked as number 3 and 4 in Gothenburg, also featuring in the Michelin Guide.

What differences do you find between living in your home country and in Sweden?

In Brazil, social life is very active, meeting friends and family often, with warmer weather, chimarrao, churrasco, cold beer. In Sweden, it’s about quality of life, security to raise the kids, stable economy, public health care, education, opportunities.

How often do you go back home, and how do you feel each time?

Since I moved in 2006, I’ve been back 5 times. It feels like time stopped in Novo Hamburgo, the same things in the same places, but the people, some are no longer around, and the ones around, always have the same young spirit, lovely.

What do you miss the most about Brazil?

The people and the coast of Santa Catarina.

What are your future plans?

The restaurants are doing well. I truly want to do more gastronomic exchanges with Brazilian chefs, so I can make some appearances once a year and bring some good chefs to cook in Sweden.

jean henkel

What advice would you give to someone who would like to make a courageous choice like yours?

Make sure to do that when you are young and able to take risks. Explore, experience, enjoy, love, hate, find your place; the world is big and full of possibilities. Life goes by really quickly, so don’t wait too long to start moving, don’t stay still.

Thank you, Jean!

Jean Henkel’s journey from the streets of Novo Hamburgo in Brazil to the serene, orderly life in Gothenburg, Sweden, is a vivid testament to the boundless potential that lies in the heart of the expatriate experience.

His story is not merely about geographical relocation; it’s a profound narrative of transformation, resilience, and the relentless pursuit of dreams against all odds.

For those standing at the precipice of making a significant life change, contemplating the leap into expat life, Jean’s story serves as both a beacon of inspiration and a guidepost for what’s possible when we dare to step beyond our comfort zones.

Jean’s transition from a student and insurance company employee in Brazil to a celebrated restaurateur and expat in Sweden underscores a universal truth: the journey of an expat is paved with challenges, yet it’s these very obstacles that sculpt our strengths, broaden our horizons, and teach us the invaluable lessons of adaptability and perseverance.

His ascent from a kitchen porter to the owner of two acclaimed restaurants is a powerful reminder that where we start does not dictate where we can go. It speaks to the essence of the expat experience—a journey not just of physical relocation but of personal evolution – where every setback is a setup for a comeback, and every dream is valid and achievable.

Expat in Sweden from Brazil

Living between cultures, Jean has embraced the best of both worlds—the warmth and vibrancy of Brazilian life paired with the quality of life, security, and opportunities that Sweden offers. This bicultural existence enriches not only the individual but also the communities they touch, fostering a cross-pollination of ideas, cuisines, and traditions that enrich our global village.

Jean’s advice to those contemplating a similar path is a clarion call to action: to embrace risk when young, to explore with an open heart, to experience fully, to love, to hate, to find your place in this vast world. His words echo a fundamental truth—life is fleeting, and the moment to act is now. Do not wait too long to start moving; the world is vast, filled with opportunities waiting to be seized.

As we close this inspiring narrative, let’s carry forward the spirit of adventure, courage, and determination that Jean Henkel exemplifies. Whether you dream of opening a restaurant, exploring new cultures, or simply finding your place in the world, remember that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Take that step with confidence, fueled by the stories of those like Jean who have ventured before us, and remember that the unknown is not to be feared but embraced as the canvas upon which we can paint our most extraordinary lives.

For those captivated by his story and eager to explore his culinary creations, we invite you to visit his websites at www.restaurangcarbon.se and www.buteco.se, and to follow his Instagram pages @carbon_restaurang and @butecogbg.

As Jean has shown, the world is indeed full of possibilities, waiting for each of us to leave our mark.