THE NORDIC WAVES-SCANDINAVIAN CHEFS: MAGNUS EK
(SWEDISH) Den nordiska vågen” kallas den grupp kockar från Skandinavien, framförallt från Sverige, Danmark och Norge, som under de senaste åren förknippats med det nya nordiska köket. Åtta ledande kockar kommer härmed att presenteras i en serie på tre delar. Först ut Magnus Ek från Oaxen och Ola Rudin/Sebastian Persson från TRIO.
The Nordic Waves is the term I used to describe this group of chefs from all of Scandinavia, mainly from Sweden, Denmark 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 Rene 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! To present the eight (8) chefs selected I decided to divide them into three little groups, not by country but by affinity. So I began with two powerful Coup de Coeur: Magnus Ek (Oaxen Krog) and Ola Rudin/Sebastian Persson (TRIO).
Magnus Ek is currently one of the best chefs in the world and a leader for the next generation. For 10 years, he worked to put forward a creative Swedish cuisine combining different techniques with (ultra-local) products to create a real experience. Indeed, Magnus Ek’s restaurant and hotel are located on the small island of Oaxen, remote ferry Stockholm. This is where the chef Ek takes part of his inspiration and much of its products from producers in the region and the beautiful Swedish nature.
Magnus Ek’s cuisine used to magnify the environment that surrounds it, as it shines through in the products used in its very particular aesthetic (see photos). Some may call his cuisine cerebral, but above all enjoyable. It proves that by being dedicated to the cuisine and the details that accompany, it can make a world-renowned cuisine, even on a small island…From which emerges a great chef!
Q+A WITH MAGNUS EK (www.oaxenkrog.se ):
1- (Scoffier) How do you explain the philosophy behind your cuisine and what is it main characteristics? Equally, what’s the concept behind your restaurant/hotel?
MEk- We want to give our guests a experience to remember after they have visit us, and trying to give them some thing exclusive. So the main characteristics is our food, serving and the environment we have in our restaurant. We are using local ingredients and trying to use our surrounding in the food. We can give our guests some thing they can’t get elsewhere.
2-(Scoffier) Do you have a particular foods (or products) that you often use in your recipes?
MEk- I use wild herbs, lichen and rock weed from the Island very often in my food.
3-(Scoffier) Do you have a mentor (chefs or anybody else) that inspires you in your cuisine?
MEk- I do not have a mentor but I get inspired of people with a passion for what they do, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be people who work with food.
4-(Scoffier) Do you have a particular flavour or taste from your childhood that is again memorable?
MEk- Many!! The first is a jam that my mother use to cook, made of wild strawberries and blackberries we pick on the islands of Vättern lake, we called it queen jam. And a lot of wild mushroom and a more…
5-(Scoffier) Oaxen Krog closed in the Winter, what you do in this period to inspire you to create the new menu; you travel, taste much products etc.?
MEk- First of all, I try to distance myself from all kind of fine dining and emotionally food, usually that is in January. After a couple of weeks, I can’t stop myself from thinking food and new dish. And then, I sit down and start to write the fragments of dish that i have in my head. In the winter and spring, I also visit other restaurants and travel and i collect much informations and details. Then comes April , I take all notes and I sit down with some coffee or tea, some good music and start to put it together. Two weeks before we open the restaurant, I start to cook and try them.
6-(Scoffier) Do you are part of the New Nordic Cuisine manifesto initiated by Claus Meyer and Rene Redzepi (Noma). If yes, are you as strict (just local products) that Rene Redzepi in your recipes? Example: no olives oil etc.
MEk- I was not invited to sign the manifesto. But I have certainly no troubles with it, and think it is a great idea since it complies with same thinking we have had at Oaxen since we opened in 1994. I would say that 99% of all the ingredients at Oaxen Krog are locally or Scandinavian.
I will not say 100% because i think it is wrong to say that and then not doing it, like most of the restaurants who signed the manifesto does.
7-(Scoffier) I look the photography of your dish and you have a really particular and great aesthetics, it’s important for you to have a theatrical presentation of your dish?
MEk- The looks of the plate is the most important thing until you taste it. After that, it is just a bonus. But when you see the dish, you must always want to eat it.
8-(Scoffier) What is the importance of wine pairings in your menu at Oaxen Krog and do you focus on a kind of wine?
MEk- Our goal is the perfect match, but we do not focus on any wine.
9-(Scoffier) Do you use some elements from molecular gastronomy or new technology in your cooking techniques? If yes, which?
MEk- Molecular gastronomy as I see it is some thing we always have used in the restaurants since the beginning of time. It is just that now, we can explain exactly what’s happening, so my answer is Yes. But if you ask if I use Ferran Adria artificial stuff who many consider synonymous with molecular cuisine my answer is NO.
10-(Scoffier) Can you give us a detailed recipe (signature or an important dish) that is characterized the cuisine of Magnus Ek and Oaxen Krog?
MEk- Until 2007, we didn’t have any signature dish (or didn’t want to have). But our Pig’s head has become a signature dish at Oaxen. We change the dish but the head is always cooked the same way.
11-(Scoffier) What is your goal (ambitions) as a chef or for your restaurant? Do you think about write a new book, a television show, others?
MEk- When everything works as intended in the kitchen and dining room and you have fun with your staff, It is harmony. So, you can say that my goal is to have total harmony and a hell of a good 2010 season!
RECIPE: Pig’s Head
INGREDIENT & PROGRESSION RECIPE
-1/2 Pig’s head
-1 garlic (split in half)
-1 small bunch thyme
-1 small bunch sage
-½ dl salt
1. Rinse clean the pig head from blood. Rub the head with salt and add the garlic and herbs in a vacuum bag. Let it stay in the fridge for 3 days.
2. Then bake the head for 2 days in a oven at 65 ° C. Remove it and cool. This can be done several days in advance.
3. Rinse your head clean, splash on some vinegar and baking course at a tray in a medium dry oven 180 ° C for 45 minutes.
4. Remove the pork from the oven and press the meat from the bone using a spatula. Cut the meat into slices and serve.
-Oaxen Krog/Chef Magnus Ek
-Adieu Oaxen book (2011)
1. Swedish Chefs Ek + Dahlgren, Caterer Magazine 2009: http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/2009/04/03/326987/swede-sensations-mathias-dahlgren-and-magnus-ek-lead-swedish-new-wave.htm
2. Best Gourmet Inns, Condé Nast Traveller: http://www.cntraveller.com/recommended/food/five-swedish-gourmet-inns
1. Sugar Lemon bubble, Demo Magnus Ek, February 2008, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13KfTXRNelo
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