Stars of Nordic cuisine light up culinary conference
Norway’s Andreas Viestad, Sweden’s Magnus Nilsson, and more to headline inaugural Nordic Culinary Conference
Taste of Norway Editor
Nordic cooking has been catching the world by storm for over the past decade—especially since the advent of the Nordic Kitchen Manifesto in 2004 and the popularity of restaurants such as Copenhagen’s Noma, which has been named the World’s Best Restaurant three times in recent years—and this spring it converges in the richly Scandinavian city of Seattle. The Nordic Heritage Museum’s inaugural Nordic Culinary Conference takes place May 6-8, with chefs from each of the five Nordic countries set to appear.
“Being able to secure the level of talent that we have right here on the inaugural conference is pretty exciting,” says Jonathan Sajda, the museum’s program manager.
Magnus Nilsson—two star chef of Sweden’s celebrated restaurant Fäviken and author of the recently released The Nordic Cookbook—is one of the keynote speakers. Andreas Viestad, host of New Scandinavian Cooking on PBS, represents Norway. Other chefs include Sara La Fountain, a Finnish-American chef known for the shows New Scandinavian Cooking and Perfect Day; Alfred Alfredsson of LAVA Restaurant at Blue Lagoon in Iceland; and Lars Kronmark of Denmark, who is a senior chef-instructor at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone.
“I feel like we kinda knocked it out of the park first go,” Sajda said. “It’s exciting.”
The museum has always done very traditional Nordic cooking, Sadja said (full disclosure, I’ve taught several classes there), but they were interested in engaging contemporary and New Nordic cuisine as well.
“From our standpoint we were trying to kinda go from the history of traditional Nordic cooking we have here at the museum and move it forward towards what the contemporary trends of Nordic cooking are and have been for the last 15 to 20 years,” he said.
One of the things he’s looking forward to is a discussion around the idea that “old is new and new is old, you know, that the traditional is actually what is making contemporary Nordic cuisine its own sort of identity,” he said. “And I think that that’s going to be a really interesting discussion for the conference and hopefully one that generates a lot of debate.”
The conference kicks off on Friday, May 6, with an opening celebration and keynote addresses by Nilsson and Kalle Bergman, the founder of Honest Cooking who has also put on the NORTH festival in New York City in recent years. There will also be a panel discussion with the chefs. Saturday and Sunday will feature lectures and demonstrations at the museum and at Hot Stove Society at Hotel Ändra.
A limited number of full conference packages go on sale soon. These will include access to the opening festivities and several courses throughout the weekend, along with some extras including a walkthrough with Nilsson of his exhibit, Magnus Nilsson’s Nordic: A Photographic Essay of Landscapes, Food and People, which opens at the museum on March 18.
The museum will make à la carte tickets available after the full conference tickets sell out. For more information about the conference, including ticketing, visit nordicmuseum.org/culinary.
This article originally appeared in the March 4, 2016, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.