Our trip to the best restaurants in the world took us to Oslo, Norway, to visit the Kontrast of Chef Mikael Svensson, one-star Michelin’s. His definition of modern Scandinavian cuisine concerns the ethics of catering, the products origin and respect for traditions. Opening, however, to international influences. According to Svensson, his oenogastronomy journey began fifteen years ago, with the dream of opening a restaurant on his own. He actually managed to do it, after a long wandering among the most important European cuisines. His creed, instead, is linked to the use of local products: “The quality of the final dish derives from the ingredients’ quality. Even if it will never be able to overcome it”.
Chef Svensson, you had the chance to work in several restaurants and in many parts of the world, throughout your career. How did these different cultures influence your way of cooking?
“Mine is a cuisine based on local and seasonal ingredients that I receive directly from Norwegian producers, from our forests and our oceans. This dictates my menu. The main influences, however, come from my childhood memories, the moment in which I came to know the roots of traditional Nordic cuisine: the grill, smoking, marinating and preservation. Then, of course, travel and experiences helped a lot “.
What were the biggest difficulties when you decided to open the Kontrast?
“How to invest money. I’ve always done everything by myself, without consultants or external help. My secret was to build my path one step at a time, slowly. Thinking big but starting with small things”.
What role should the modern cuisine play when it comes to respecting the environment?
“I think it is essential for a restaurant to be focused on environmental sustainability. We must ask ourselves about the origin of our ingredients, but not only. It is the duty of every chef to ask himself where the raw materials come from and to understand that their choices have actual consequences for the environment “.
The Scandinavian cuisine has recently received an increasing appreciation by critics and enthusiasts. Has everything changed?
“Yes. The chefs have realized that a personal style can be developed by using local products. The rediscovery, then, of local ingredients, exotic for the rest of the world, such as forest berries or some seafood, makes it exciting to think about the future of this cuisine”.
Talking about Kontrast, what do you mean by “modern Scandinavian restaurant”?
“Overcoming the concept of new Nordic: drawing from history and culinary traditions to create a modern cuisine in its technique. With a touch of Norwegian design in the choice of interiors: from tables to plates”.