Jesper Blomqvist is the celebrated Football pro that today is one of the owners to one of Sweden’s best pizza restaurants, 450 Gradi. And lucky me, it is located at the island where I live!
I made an interview with Jesper:
Could you describe yourself with just five words?
-Stubborn, positive, a team player, perfectionist and empathetic.
-It’s Italian and I have been love with Italian food since I lived there. I used to come and eat at the pizzeria for 2 years before becoming a partner. The first time I had a pizza there, that was the first time I had a real pizza in Sweden like I was used to from Italy. I love working with Italian food, but it could as well have been pasta. But as the restaurant were going to open up at a new location, I had the possibility to join in as a partner!
What has been the hardest part with becoming the most famous pizza baker in Sweden and England?
-Everything has been really and today I have a big respect for everyone running their own businesses. It is a lot to think about, but having to try out wine, cheese, ham etc makes it a real joy!
As at all successful restaurants it is as much about team work as it is about the food. What is the best way to motivate everyone at the restaurant?S
-A bit like when you play football, you have to encourage and support them. And it has to be fun to work!
Could you share a memorable food memory with me?
-A great memory was when I visited a restaurant in Verona that the wine yard owners own together. The wine list is as big as an old phone directory and they serve really good Italian food. An amazing place!
Will you open up at more locations?
-We will, and we will start in Sweden. But we are looking at other countries to.
The best thing with working in the restaurant business?
-To be able to try out mew things, and to eat of course!
So have you had all British press visiting 450 Gradi?
-Haha, quite a few!
So is it harder to play football or make a pizza?
-Bake a pizza.
Your favorite football memory?
-The Jubileum match between Manchester United and Bayern Münich at the Old Trafford. We had 62000 at the stands watching and cheering. And Alex Ferguson was holding a very emotional speech for five minutes.
Both football players and chefs often have a tattoo, do you?
450 Gradi is located at Lidingö, an island just outside Stockholm where you can go by car over a bridge.
Persiksopvägen 19, Lidingö, Sweden
Text and photo Malin Nordblom
The interview was first published in Swedish at http://www.gourmet.se