Elena Arzak (in English)

Elena runs Restaurant Arzak in San Sebastian with her father Juan Mari Arzak, and she has the cooking in her venes since generations back. I had the pleasure to eat her exquisite food, and I have meet Elena both in Sweden and in San Sebastian during Gastronomika. And even if Elena is running a Michelin restaurant, she is as humble as bumblebee! She loves to share her knowledge with others, and is very passionate about what she cooks. She has worked at some amazing restaurants like La Maison Troisgros, Pierre Gagnaire, Carré des Feuillants and Le Vivarois in France, Louis XV i Monte Carlo, Le Gavroche in London, Antica Osteria del Ponte i Italien and El Bulli in Spain. And restaurant Arzak has been awarded with 3 Michelin stars and lots of other prizes and awardsfor their food!Not only that they have 3 Michelin stars since 1989, they have kept them for all those years!! When Elena was in the jury for the Swedish Chef of the Year 2019 I did a short interview with her for Gourmet in Swedish that you now can read down below in English.

Is there any Swedish chefs that has meant something special for you?

-At the time Mathias Dahlgren was running Bon Lloc he introduced the Swedish kitchen for me. He is a very talented chef that I really appreciate. But you have a lot of talented chefs in Sweden like Björn Frantzen, Niklas Ekstedt and Stefan Karlsson from Gothenbourg. 

What do you think about the Swedish gastronomy scene?

-It is always very intresting to follow, and I really appreciate what the young chefs are doing. I always get lots of new great influences when I am in Sweden.

And how about the Swedish kitchen, what do you think about that?

-I really like the way the Swedish chefs are plating. Their way is ”Order but disorder” . I came up with that frase when I meet Gourmet’s Tove once! Sweden is really the king of fish, and lingonberry is really my Swedish favourite. 

I appreciate the way swedes very often take nature in conscideration while choosing their produce. We also think that way in the Basque Country today.

The Swedish dairy products are fantastic! The butter, yoghurt… I had an amazing breakfast at Bank Hotel this morning with some really great dairy products!

Any thoughts about the chefs in the Chef of the year competition?

-They are full of new ideas, and you can see that they are proud over what they do. 

How is it to be a chef in Spain?

-In the old days my father and his collegues had to fight for recognition of their work, today we don’t have to do that. People understand and appreciate what we do. This something I am very happy for! But it is important that you keep your feet at the ground, and to give other chefs the opportunity to show everyone what they know! And I, just like everyone else work at the restaurant!

You are well known for your engagement and with teaching kids to think about what they eat. Could you tell us some more about that?

-I tell them why it is important to eat the right nutrients, to my favour they listen to me and that helps of course. It is so important that the young people know what you are supposed to eat fro the beginning. I also work with San Sebastian Basque Culinary Center SBCC, I give advise to schools what children and teenagers need to eat to get the right nutrients and how they can create nutritional meals. In some other countries I help through some organizations like ”Food for the world” in New York and in Ethiopia. I also work with children that has cancer to get the right nutrition. I am doing as much as I can, and I think that is our duty to help children.

What is the biggest difference between the Spanish and the Swedish kitchen?

-The Swedish chefs often use less ingredients at the plate than the Spanish chefs. We often use a lot of different things at the plate. But both the Swedish and Spanish kitchen are using much locally produced foods. I also think that the Swedes are more daring in extreme flavors than we are.

Did you always wanna become a chef?

-There has never been anything else for me. I had good grades in school and I could choose what I wanted to become.

You have been to Sweden several times, your most memorable meal here?

-Herring is amazing, I had a really good celery bowl by Mathias Dahlgren. 

Your biggest passion?

-Everything I do has to do with food, when I travel. eat well everything follow this red line with food. I love everything about it! And I would never travel to a place where they don’t have good food.

What inspires you to create new recipes?

-For the moment it is everyday things, normally the ideas are there right infront of you, you just have to be able to see them. Like here in Stockholm, when I looked at Globen I imagined a truffle with holes in it. I get new ideas all the time.

Your most memorable cooking experience? 

-Bartolli invited me to the opera in Salzburg a few years ago, and then I cooked dishes that associated to Rossini. Our 100 years with restaurant Arzak was an amazing cooking experience!

Does your kids cook to?

-They have been cooking since they were 5 years old! 

By Malin Nordblom

Selfie taken during Gastronomika in San Sebastian 2019

And I am so looking forward to visit restaurant Arzak as soon as it is possible!

Gustaf Mabrouk, the World’s Best Pastry Chef

Gustaf Mabrouk is an outstanding chocolate maker and pastry chef. Last year he was awared as the World’s Best Pastry Chef by the International Bakery and Pastry Union (UIBC). He has also been leading the Swedish Pastry Team, he was the youngest Pastry Chef in Sweden to win the Pastry chef of the year when he was 19, he came at 3rd place inCoupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie 2014 and much more. You could say that he has some experince… His book The Chocolate Makers Hand Book is a beautiful and must have for all Chocolate lovers! (I actually gave mine away, need to get a new one!) I made a short interview with Gustaf:

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Karim Rezaul

Karim Rezaul has been awarded the ”Special recognition award” by the British curry awards in London for his knowledge and development of the Indian kitchen. He is the only non British person to have been awarded this! He actually won his first British Curry Award in 2010,  ”Curry life award of excellence” , at that time it was for his spice mixtures. In Sweden he has been awarded with the Golden Dragon award twice!

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Joan Roca

Joan Roca opened up the three Michelin starred restaurant El Celler de Can Roca in 1986 with his brothers Josep and Jordi. In 2007 they changed location of the restaurant. Today they have their three stars and has been ranked as the number one restaurant in the world several times! And still Joan is a humble chef, that has easy to laugh. I meet Joan in San Sebastian Gastronomika in Spanien, and asked him some questions.

How is it to work with your brothers?

-It’s actually working really well! We really know and trust each other, so it works really great to run the restaurant together. If it didn’t, then we should just quit!

You have started to use more local herbs and flowers at the restaurant with the help of a botanist, has this changed the way you cook the last years?

-Our grand mother always used different kinds of flowers and herbs as we lived in the country side. But as we live in a city we have to learn. We started to learn for about 5 years ago, and we wan’t to make sure the knowledge about how to use flowers and herbs doesn’t disappear.We also work together with a researcher who helps us understand how we can use them in different ways.

Any new things coming up from the Roca family?

-The family has bought a building in Girona were we just opened up a chocolate factory and a hotel with 15 rooms. You will be able to buy the chocolate online to.But there will be no more hotels or chocolate factory’s, just like no more restaurants. Only one of everything!

What is the most important thing for you when you travel?

-To eat a lot’s of different food, to talk with the chefs and to visit food markets.

Have you ever been to Sweden?

-A very long time ago. You have many great chefs like Björn Frantzen, so I would love to visit again.

People travel less today because of it’s impact on the climate. How can we experience food from other culture’s without traveling as much.

-In the past you didn’t travel, you got hold of seeds from different countries. We have a lot of seeds from different countries at the restaurant. We plant, and see which ones that works in our climate. We need to come back to travel through the seeds, and not through products.

By Malin Nordblom

The hotel Casa Cacao and the chocolate factory just opened in Girona, Spain. And I would love to visit as it has everything I love there! If you visit, send me a shot!

The interview was done during San Sebastian Gastronomika where Joan Roca held a lecture and cooked up on stage.

It was first published at http://www.gourmet.se in Swedish.

The world has several little treats, and to open the globe you need to answer some questions and pull a lever.

Christian André Pettersen

Christian André Pettersen has been in the restaurant business since he was a little kid. He has worked for Charles Tjessem, Spiseriet at Stavanger’s Concert Hall and at restaurant Mondo in Sandnes. He has competed in Bocuse d’Or Europe and won, and got bronze in Bocuse d’Or 2019. He is competing again this year, and is going for gold. I asked Christian some questions when I meet him in Luxembourg:

Niklas Ekstedt

79861390_10157781827246322_2193053805061341184_n.jpgNiklas Ekstedt started his career with an internship for Ferran Adria and Heston Blumenthal, and running restaurant ”Niklas” in Helsingborg at only 21 years old. A lot has happened since then, and he is today running the  Michelin restaurant Ekstedt, Tygge & Sessil and restaurant Hillenberg. He has written several Cook Books, been having his own TV series like Food & Fire at Viaplay and he is the founder of Foodstoch Festival at Fjäderholmarna in Stockholm. I asked Niklas some questions:

Kevin Cherkas

This native Canadian is one of the most influential chefs in Indonesia today, and he is running one of the best restaurants! He graduated with a Degree in Culinary Arts back home in Canada. Kevin has worked at some amazing places like the three-star restaurants Arzak and El Bulli in Spain, the two-star restaurant La Broche in Madrid, three-star restaurant Daniel in New York City, Shangri-La in both Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Kevin opened up restaurant Cuca in Jimbaran, Bali in 2013 and since then he has attracted guests from all over the world. When I first met Kevin I was covering Gastronomika in San Sebastián, Spain. Kevin was the most charismatic chef up there at stage, people could really feel and taste what he was talking about. I understand why people all over the world wants him to come and speak about his passion, food! So when visiting Bali I had a trip to his restaurant Cuca at my program and asked Kevin some questions. (And you will find out more about the restaurant in another post!) I had a chat with Kevin before the meal:

Sebastian Pettersson

Sebastian is one of the team members of the Swedish Culinary Team that just competed in Stuttgart and got a silver medal! Here is a short interview with Sebastian:

How come you decided to be a pastry chef?
– I have always been interested of music, and been very much into that. And I wanted to learn something new during my gymnasie years, so I choose to learn this.

Most fun with working and competing with this?
– To be able to work with something that is my biggest passion.

What are you most proud of? 
– The gold we won in 2018 during the Culinary Olympics.

Your favorite food country?
– Denmark.

What inspires you? 
– Other passionate chefs/pastry chefs Andra drivna kockar/konditorer i branschen.

What is the best to serve someone you like?
– Freshly made ice cream.

The most important kitchen gadget? 
– The scale.

Can you share a food memory with us?
– A fantastic dinner in the Frech country side with locally produced food and wines. Magical!

Who has been the biggest inspiration for you?
– Fredrik Borgskog without any doubt.

What do you do in 5 years time? 
– I would like to run a restaurant with chefs from the Culinary Team.

By Malin Nordblom

The interview was first published at http://www.gourmet.se in Swedish.

Franciane Tartari

‪Franciane Tartari came 3:rd in last years Pastry chef of the year competition in Sweden, she was head pastry chef for the Culinary Team of Luxembourg, she has won the International Sugar trophy and currently works as head pastry chef at the Castle Terrace restaurant in Edinburgh. I asked Franciane some questions: Läs mer

Daniel Berlin

Daniel Berlin is running a 2 star restaurant in Skåne Tranås with his own name.
He worked at a few other restaurants before he started his own place, Gastro in Helsingborg, Petri Pumpa and Torso Twisted in Malmö. I asked him some questions:

Do you prefer vegetarian food, meat or fish?
– Vegetarian. Running a restaurant I feel responsible to get people to eat more vegetables.

What are you most proud of?
– Without any doubt that I opened up this restaurant.

Is there any food you don’t like?
– I do not eat too spicy food, but that depends on situation. And I don’t like food that doesn’t fit in at the moment, and if you’re at a nicer restaurant it’s important that the food goes with the restaurant. It should be a total experience of food and place.

Do you use cookbooks?
– I don’t use them but I look in them.

Your favourite food country?
– France.

Could you tell us the best food experience you ever had?
– My first visit to Noma in 2007 was the first big food experience I ever had.

What gives you inspiration?
– Tomas Dreinjing (atPetri Pumpa in Malmö)  inspired me a lot. But everyone that works at the restaurant, my family, life, well everything that’s around me actually inspires me.

Your favourite kitchen gadget?
– That must be my tasting spoons. I am tasting so much different food and I cannot live without them.

What would you like to learn to cook?
– I would like to cook seafood better.

Do you have any good story from the restaurant?
– Sometimes we get a power cut in the winter. And then we all wear headlamps at the restaurant, and all the guest are gathering around the fire. It’s a fantastic experience and totally different to anything else.

Interview and photo by Malin Nordblom

The interview was first published in Swedish at https://gourmet.se/gourmets-snabba-fragor/daniel-berlin/

Text and photo Malin Nordblom

Fab Foodie Swede

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Kamilla Seidler

I met up with Danish Kamilla Seidler who started her career at Geist in Copenhagen as a student, and ended up as head chef. She has also been head chef at Gustu in La Paz, Bolivia. She has been awarded as the best female chef at Latin America’s 50 best restaurants. (Gustu came in 16th place) Läs mer