THE NORDIC WAVES-SCANDINAVIAN CHEFS: GUNNAR KARL GISLASON
The Nordic Waves is the term I used to describe this group of chefs from all of Scandinavia, mainly from Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway. These chefs known for 3-4 years at international level have particularly been at the forefront over the past two years due to the recognition of New Nordic Cuisine and the emphasis on a cuisine close to nature and the local products. All this, without relying on the status attained by the restaurant Noma and Chef René Redzepi. But beyond fashions and trends of the moment, I discovered a high concentration of young chefs, innovative, creative, open to the world and all dedicated to their garden and immediate environment.
In a logical sequence, I begin 2012 in Scandinavia to present Chef Gunnar Karl Gislason, “fer-de-lance” of Icelandic cuisine. Like many other excellent Scandinavian chefs, Gislason promotes the best nordic produces in her cuisine long time ago. Moreover, thinking “Nordic cuisine”, I often think at Iceland, Faroe Island as a starting point. I remember the trip “voyage iniatique” of René Redzepi at the beginning of noma (see the Carnet in noma book).
Child of the place, chef Gislason made his classes in Iceland before to go at noma and with the Icelandic National Culinary Team. In February 2009, he decided to open Dill Restaurant with the sommelier Olafur Öm Olafsson, a wonderful little place in the Nordic House in Reykjavik. This restaurant is a window and a laboratory for the cuisine of Gislason, a cuisine already recognized abroad (he cooked at the James Beard House, NYC) and rewarded in Iceland and elsewhere.
Yet this time, it is a cuisine deeply rooted in the Icelandic & Nordic terroir. A really modern cuisine which revisits the old methods (traditional) of cooking and preparation. A chef with an unique voice and an universal language. To follow for long time!
Q+A WITH GUNNAR KARL GISLASON (www.dillrestaurant.is ):
1-(Scoffier) How do you explain the philosophy behind your cuisine and what is it main characteristics? What is the concept behind Dill Restaurant?
GKGislason– O well o well ! Icelandic kitchen, new nordic or slow food, it all sounds good and could all work fine with what we are doing. And to tell you the truth I don’t really care which one people use. We try to use our great Icelandic products, if what we need is not available in Iceland, we get them from our neighboring countries.
2-(Scoffier) Do you have a flavour or taste from your childhood that is again memorable?
GKGislason– I was raised in the country side and close to our house was a large field of 2 meters high chervil. I have play there a lot with my friends making secret tunnels and all that. Of course, I ate some of that fine anise smelling green herb and liked it. Even better was the scent of my clothes after one day in chervil.
3-(Scoffier) Do you have a particular foods (or products) that you often use in your recipes?
GKGislason– DILL would be pretty obvious answer, right ? And then there is the beautiful salted cod from my friend Elvar Reykjalín at Hauganes. He is using the old method, so it´s a one year’s pause and it just keep showing up on my menu.
4-(Scoffier) Do you have a mentor (chefs or anybody else) that inspires your cuisine?
GKGislason– My first cook book was given to me by my mother, it was White Heat by Marco Pierre White. I read that book 100 times and I would be lying if said that I didn’t get inspired after that. Then much later I worked for Erwin Lauterbach. His vegetables and philosophy is something, I will always remember and respect him. Later came René Redzepi and then my good friend Claus (Henriksen) that really opened up my mind on a good way.
5-(Scoffier) Can you describe the progression of the gastronomy in the country in the recent years?
GKGislason– After the financial crisis chefs have more and more opened up their eyes about Icelandic products because importing is expensive. And the Icelanders have started to produce more and more and that is very good! Now, it´s the only positive thinking about the financial crisis and at least we obtained something good out of it.
6-(Scoffier) How do you develop your recipes? What are your source(s) of inspiration?
GKGislason– Nothing and everything. It can be everything from nature to something that one of my children said the other day. Usually it just comes !
7-(Scoffier) You seem to have a natural affinity with the chef Claus Henriksen (Dragsholm Slot), are there any similarities in your cuisine?
GKGislason– Well we are good friends and we do agree on lot of things. I guess there are some similarities and that you could say about a lot of chefs using all the amazing raw materials from there nature. But every chef have their unique touch and more importantly there own nature. At the end of the day, the final result will never be the same.
8-(Scoffier) Do you are part of the New Nordic Cuisine manifesto?
GKGislason– Not really, I do use the manifesto as guidelines and I think that’s what it is, a guidelines rather that a rule. But then again I might be wrong, it happens.
9-(Scoffier) Can you give us a detailed recipe (Signature dish or other) that is characterized the cuisine of Gunnar Gislason and Dill Restaurant?
GKGislason– Recipe: Raekjur & Surmjolh uppsk
10-(Scoffier) What are your goals (ambitions) as chef and for your restaurant? Do you think about write a book, a television show, others?
GKGislason– I’m working on a book along with some good friends, when it will be ready, I don’t know yet… But it´s about Icelandic producers, especially those that encourage the very old methods that more and more are fading away.
RECIPE: Shrimp & Buttermilk. Bread crumbs, Wild chervil & Artic Char Roe.
Ingredients & Progression Recipe (6 pers.)
250 gr raw shrimps
2 tablespoons neutral oil
1 teaspoon apple vinegar
In a bowl mix all together and season with salt
300 gr buttermilk
Put the buttermilk on a cloth and let it stand in a cooler for 12 hour
Put the buttermilk from the cloth on a espuma bottle, put gas on it and shake well before service
100 gr whey (use the one coming from the buttermilk)
1 gelatin sheet
Put the gelatin in cold water until soft. Clean in new water and then add to they whey
Heat until the gelatin is melted and then put in cooler until firm
150 gr bread
20 gr butter
Cut the bread in cubes and fry it in the butter until crispy, season with salt an then put it on paper
6 teaspoons artic char roes.
50 gr wild chervil leafs
50 gr neutral oil
Put in blender and blend on full power until smoking hot (5-8 minutes). Put on cloth
Leafs of wild chervil for garnish.
Dill Restaurant/Chef-owner Gunnar Karl Gislason
101 Reykjavik (Iceland)
(NOTE: Credit for the photos: Dill Restaurant)
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