By Jeff Game
The Swedish meatball is so old school these days – a culinary revolution is underway in the capital city of Scandinavia, making Stockholm the next great food city. A surge of Michelin-starred chefs are carving out their own path by creating a new version of Nordic cooking.
A new guard of Swedish chefs are all about producing the ultimate food experience, while infusing home cooking styles that have been around for centuries, such as wood burning ovens, foraging local ingredients and revamping generations of family recipes.
To jump-start their economy and bolster a floundering culinary scene, in 2012 the Swedish government shocked everyone by voting to lower their long-standing VAT tax on restaurant services from 25 percent to a staggering 12 percent. Over the past three years, Stockholm has seen a mind-blowing seven new Michelin restaurants added to the already impressive list, including Ekstedt, Gastrologik and Oaxen Krog.
Take an eclectic and diverse culinary tour with four rising Michelin star chefs in the hot new millennial Stockholm food scene.
I’m on fire
No electricity needed in the primal world of Ekstedt, owned by the inventive and laid-back top TV Swedish chef Niklas Ekstedt. In the heart of the fashionable Östermalm neighborhood, Ekstedt is one the top rated and busiest restaurants in the new thriving Stockholm food scene.
The gastronomic bravery of chef Ekstedt and his stellar staff by simply using birch wood cast iron skillets and a whole lot of fire to create a seasonal and ever-changing menu of tableside seared reindeer hearts, to cast iron bone marrow to langoustine in a crispy chicken skin.
Chef Ekstedt passionately describes the importance to modernize the Stockholm food scene, “We needed to do original cooking, no longer import other culinary concepts, and we needed to invent our own ideas.” As he proudly proclaims, “Now Stockholm is the most important place for food in Europe.”
Gastrologik is a sleek and innovative mad-science culinary creation of chef Jacob Holmström and chef Anton Bjuhr. Gastrologik is a sensory overload of gastronomy as each of the three or six course tasting menu is elegantly displayed and explained to guests by the creators’ chef Holmström and chef Bjuhr. Still, with all this culinary artistry Gastrologik still maintains a real sense of home cooking – home cooking you likely have never experienced in your life.
Chef Holmström talks about being part of the change in Stockholm. “Sweden’s restaurant culture has changed a lot; we have found our own way of doing things. There is now Swedish restaurant scene, pretty much on all levels of dining.”
Chef Magnus Ek of the recently awarded two Michelin star Oaxen Krog creates a posh yet homey inviting atmosphere, while still possessing mad culinary skills in the kitchen, bringing traditional Swedish family recipes into his modern kitchen. Oaxen Krog is a natural and organic fine dining experience along the water in the Royal Djurgården, using 100 percent local Swedish herbs and the best locally sourced Nordic ingredients.
Chef Ek knows the importance of modernizing tried and true Swedish family recipes in the new Stockholm food culture. “We take the home cooking recipes and bring them into our modern restaurant scene. Now, we have established our way, our own version of Swedish cooking.”