Swedish Club auction features Danish chef

A Nordic-American home

Lori Ann Reinhall
The Norwegian American

Swedish Club auction - Trine Hahnemann

Photo courtesy of Trine Hahnemann
Chef Trine Hahnemann works with fresh, organic ingredients to create a new twist on Nordic cuisine. She’ll be preparing the menu for Seattle’s Swedish Club’s fundraiser auction this May 18.

Seattle’s Swedish Club has long identified as “a home for the Nordic-American community,” not just for locals of Swedish heritage. In recent years, programming has been expanded to encompass the cultures of all the Nordic countries. With excellent pan-Nordic cuisine offered, it is a popular hangout for Swedes, Finns, Norwegians, and Danes alike.

So it did not come as a big surprise when the club decided on a Danish theme for its annual fundraiser auction Back to Our Roots on May 18 this year. Some of its most loyal patrons are Danes, after all—they can’t resist the delicious food and good company—and over the years, the club has hosted celebrity chefs including Sweden’s Marcus Samuelsson, star chef at New York’s Aquavit restaurant, and Denmark’s premier chef and food writer Trine Hahnemann.

Somehow it seemed natural to ask Hahnemann to return to the club for her third visit to serve as master chef for the evening. As the author of several cookbooks in both Danish and English, Hahnemann is well known on both sides of the Atlantic. Her bestselling cookbook Scandinavian Comfort Food: Embracing the Art of Hygge (2016) has become a classic for Nordic foodies, and her more recent publication Open Sandwiches: 70 smørrebrød ideas for morning, noon and night (2018) is quickly becoming the new bible of its food genre.

Hahnemann’s approach to food is pure and simple: she relies on fresh base ingredients and takes the time to create food that is both delicious and healthy. She is famous for her whole-grain rye bread made from a sourdough starter and knowing what goes best with it, be it fish, cheese, meats, or vegetables.

For the Back to Our Roots auction, chef Hahnemann has created a menu in keeping with the theme for the evening, including appetizers served on her famous rye bread, traditional courses of cured salmon and roasted pork, topped off with delectable dessert of buttermilk mousse with rhubarb and meringue. More modern are the vibrant vegetables that embellish the meal. Accompanying wines have been carefully selected to round out this gourmet, thoroughly Scandinavian experience.

These days when so much focus is on Seattle’s new Nordic Museum, Executive Director Kristine Leander points out that the Swedish Club still holds an important place in the community as a social gathering place, “where members and friends can learn about the Nordic lifestyle in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere.” There is little bureaucracy to get entangled in, and most programs are generated out of the community itself. “In America, the Scandinavians—Swedes, Danes, and Norwegians—were held together with their mutually shared languages and values, and these values still hold the broader Nordic American community together today,” she adds. “Everyone is welcome at the Swedish Club.”

For this reason, it is not unusual for the Swedish Club to host Norwegian film series, a lecture on Knut Hamsun or Edvard Grieg, or a musical performance by a Norwegian Hardanger fiddler or accordionist. Norwegians are always welcome at the Swedish Club, and the Back to Our Roots auction will be no exception, in fact, one of the major sponsors is Norwegian Air. The airline is offering a certificate for two that might help get you to Norway, and another prize is a two-night stay at A Little Norway in Leavenworth, Wash.

Other auction items include appetizers and drinks for eight at a local distillery known for its aquavit, a membership with Ancestry.com (you can find out just how Norwegian you really are), and a one-year subscription to—yes, you guessed it—The Norwegian American.

Swedish Club members and supporters Nina and Georg Pedersen, two proud Danes who met and married in the United States, are serving as the auction’s co-chairs. They will be introduced by Mark Schleck, Danish honorary consul and executive director of the ScanDesign Foundation, the event’s premier sponsor.

“The auction is the most important fundraiser of the year at the club, and we are proud to serve as its co-chairs,” says Georg, a retired sea captain. “It’s a bit like hosting an event at your own home,” adds his wife Nina, “for this is our Nordic home in Seattle.

For more information on the Back to our Roots auction, please visit the Swedish Club website at www.swedishclubnw.org.

The Norwegian American has reviewed  Hahnemann’s cookbooks. Read “Redefining comfort food, celebrating hygge” (Scandinavian Comfort Food, published Dec. 30, 2016) at visit www.norwegianamerican.com/featured/redefining-comfort-food-celebrating-hygge and “Hahnemann wrote the book on smørbrød” (Open Sandwiches, published Jan. 25, 2019) www.norwegianamerican.com/food/hahnemann-book-smorbrod.

This article originally appeared in the May 3, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American.

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Lori Ann Reinhall

Lori Ann Reinhall, editor-in-chief of The Norwegian American, is a multilingual journalist and cultural ambassador based in Seattle. She is the president of the Seattle-Bergen Sister City Association, and she serves on the boards of several Nordic organizations.