THE NORDIC WAVES-SCANDINAVIAN CHEFS: MAGNUS NILSSON
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 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.
Magnus Nilsson is a child of the region of Jämtland (Sweden). It is hard to cook more local than the young chef Nilsson. Almost all the ingredients used come from fantastic Fäviken Estate or the local area (Jämtland or Norwegian neighbours in Tröndelag). Another time, it would qualify his cuisine of survivor’s cuisine to pass the winter but Nilsson creates a great cuisine with the same products and his own philosophy named Rektún food (Real food), see his explanations.
I found a Chef dedicated to his environment, his cuisine and the essential of creation. Follow this chef carefully!
Q+A WITH MAGNUS NILSSON (http://www.favikenmagasinet.se/home-en/ ):
1-(Scoffier) How do you explain the philosophy behind your cuisine and what is it main characteristics? Can you explain the Retkun food term? (I will try to put your text of your website in the interview.)
MNilsson- The words rektun food is how you say real food in my regions (Jamtland) dialect, the literal meaning is very simple but for me it has a lot more values than that.
We respect our raw ingredients for what they are, what they look like and where they come from. We strive to monitor the production of each ingredient from seed to plate. We accept nature’s own choices as the primary factor, and apply our own knowledge in order to maximise every product’s potential before we select the ones that we are going to use. We concentrate on harvesting, preparing, cooking and then serving it in the most thought through and exact way possible . We present every single ingredient in a manner that conveys the feelings that arise in the process to create rektún food.
Our ingredients are primarily from the Fäviken Estate, grown and raised in conditions that we control. After this, they come from people we know in the local area, Jämtland, and, lastly, they come from our Norwegian neighbours in Tröndelag.
We do not follow trends. We serve what we want, when we want.
Respect, control, selection, concentration, presentation.
2-(Scoffier) Do you have a flavour or taste from your childhood that is again memorable?
MNilsson- I have several very memorable childhood food memories but one that is particularly special to me is the one of flatbreads with a lot of fennel seeds cooked in the wood fired oven at my grandmother farm. We ate them with homemade and sometimes almost rancid butter and messmör wich is a very sweet reduced paste of whey.
3-(Scoffier) Do you have a mentor (chefs or anybody else) that inspires you in your cuisine?
MNilsson- Most of my inspiration in the kitchen comes from the nature and the unique circumstances at Fäviken but of course there are several people that inspire me in other ways. I have also learned things from everyone that I ever worked for that put together with the things I learned by trial and error makes up the cooking we do today at Fäviken.
4-(Scoffier) Do you are part of the New Nordic Cuisine manifesto? If yes, are you as strict (just local products) that René Redzepi in your recipes?
MNilsson- No I’m not part of that but I think we are actually even more strict than anyone in it, even René. The food at fäviken comes to 70% from the estate and almost everything else is sourced from our region (Jamtland) or the norwegian region bordering us (Trondelag) and produced by people we know. The only things we buy from the south of Sweden is, wheat flour, sugar, salt and vinegar.
5-(Scoffier) How do you develop (your inspiration) your recipes and construct your menu at Fäviken?
MNilsson- The process of creating the menus at Fäviken is very much controlled by the limitations in our concept, where the produce is sourced from and the particular circumstances in the region. I find that the limitations we have imposed on our selves is promoting creativity and forces us all into thinking in new ways.
6-(Scoffier) You work often with preserved food (leeks, cabbage etc.). Long time ago these was a survivor’s cuisine (to pass the winter), for you it is just a great cuisine near of the Nature?
B) Can you explain how do you prepare the fermented cabbage, it is a form of kimchi?
MNilsson- That’s exactly how it is, of course we could buy vegetables from somewhere else during the winter but by using our own produce and preparing it in a way that used to be a necessity to survive we force ourselves into thinking in new ways.
The fermented cabbage is lightly salted and then the covered in whey and left in a ceramic jar to preserve itself in lactic acid produced by the lactic acid bacteria in the whey.
7-(Scoffier) What is the importance of wine in your menu?
MNilsson- We serve it to the menu though we try to utilise as many other beverages of the region as possible.
8-(Scoffier) Do you use some elements from molecular gastronomy or new technology in your cooking techniques? If yes, which?
MNilsson- No, if you mean in the form of ingredients or techniques from molecular gastronomy and Yes to modern technology in the kitchen. For example we use the pacojet sometimes and even though we mainly use our open fire for cooking we also have a modern oven and a modern stove.
9-(Scoffier) Can you give us a detailed recipe (Signature dish or other) that is characterized the cuisine of Magnus Nilsson and Fäviken?
MNilsson- Recipe: Unseasoned Scallop ”i skalet ur elden” cooked over burning Juniper branches
10-(Scoffier) What is your goal (ambitions) as chef or for your restaurant? Do you think about write a book, a television show, others?
MNilsson- Our ambition at Fäviken is to continue the process of refining our concept and to increase its quality both in the kitchen, the dining room and in the hotel. It would be interesting to produce a book about the process of creating rektun food but I don’t think that I would ever do a TV show…
RECIPE:Unseasoned Scallop ”i skalet ur elden” cooked over burning Juniper branches
This is a very simple dish which is extremely demanding to produce. The scallop needs to be nothing else than perfect and the timing of the cooking has to be very precise. To be able to do this recipe with a good result you need to be at least two people otherwise the critical moments will take too long and the precision in the cooking will be lost.
INGREDIENTS & PROGRESSION RECIPE
The iodine saltiness of the almost raw broth together with the perfect scallop eaten and drunk directly from the half shell covered in fresh smokey sooth is excellent with some good bread and mature butter.
The perfect quality of the scallop and the cooking technique eliminates all need of salt or other seasoning.
(Serving 4 people):
-4 perfectly fresh, very large and abolutely sand free live scallops in their shells.
-Birch tree coal
-Fresh juniper branches
-Some dry hay with a high herb content
1. Light your coal with a hot air blower or an electric coil, never lamp oil or any other chemical
2. Spray the hay lightly with water
3. Put the juniper branches on top of the coal and when they start burning cook the scallops directly over the fire. They are finished when you hear them making a crackling noise along the edges.
4. Open the scallop up and pour all that’s in them in a preheated ceramic bowl. Separate the actual scallop and put it back in the shell. Strain the beards and intestines quickly and divide the cloudy broth in the shells together with the scallop. Put the top half back on the shelf, place them on the hay with some fresh juniper and coal and serve them right away.
5. From when you take the scallop of the fire until it is served no more than 90 seconds can pass.
-Fäviken Magasinet/Chef Magnus Nilsson
830 05 Järpen
-Cook It Raw Lapland (interview video), September 2010,
-Mat & Vänner Magazine #4, 2010, (P. 75)
-Bon Appetit Magazine, Sept. 2011
-Senses Corner Blog by Bianca Brandon-Cox, Jamtland Gastronomy 2011
-Come Home: Fäviken meet In de Wulf (video), by Piet De Kersgieter, October 2011
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