When StarChefs.com Managing Editor Will Blunt packed his bags for Stockholm, he brought a camera, tripod, laptop, and a jam-packed agenda of restaurant tastings. When he arrived, Blunt found a culinary community that celebrates equally the craftsmen and the medium. At the behest of Chef Marcus Samuelsson, Blunt attended the 2011 Arets Kock Competition. Samuelsson wanted Blunt to experience firsthand the exuberance with which Swedes celebrate their national cuisine, and the extreme spectacle they create to showcase their country's beloved chefs.
On February 3, 2011, six chefs gathered at the Ericsson Globe stadium in Stockholm to compete for the title of 2011 Arets Kock Chef of the Year. The contest, originally launched in 1983, acted as a stage for Swedish chefs to exhibit their talent in a time when only a handful of world-class restaurants existed in Sweden and minimal respect was paid to the country's culinary professionals. Almost 30 years later, Swedish chefs now enjoy international fame—diners travel from all corners of the earth to experience Nordic cuisine. Today chefs fiercely compete for the title, which is determined by a panel of judges that includes Michelin-starred chefs and former Arets Kock winners—a group well-versed in the arts of cuisine and competition.
Fredrik Eriksson, Jury chairman, Arets Kock 1987, Långbro Inns, Fairfield
Mark Aujalay, Arets Kock 2004, the President of the Association Arets Kock, Winter Creek, Stockholm
Melker Andersson, F12, Stockholm
Jonas Dahlbom, Arets Kock 1996, Dahlbom on the Square, Åre
Anders Vendel, Vendel Restaurants, Malmo
Hakan Thörnström, Thörnströms Kitchen, Gothenburg
Ulrika Bengtsson, Roger Smith Hotel, New York
Elisabeth Johansson, Chefs and Confectioners, Mediamat, Stockholm
Henrik Norström, Lux, Stockholm
Magnus Ek, Oaxen, Mörkö
Danyel Couet, F12, Stockholm
Per Bengtsson, PM & Friends, Växjö
Stefan Karlsson, Fund, Stockholm
Malin Söderström, Moderna Museet, Stockholm
The 2011 Arets Kock theme “From Farm to Table” showcased the future of Swedish food and aimed to highlight close collaboration between restaurant and farm. The competition champions both the production of quality ingredients and the art of preparation as genuine and contemporary crafts.
Six chefs had five hours to cook two dishes each. The chefs created their first dish from secret ingredients. This year when the chefs opened their baskets an almost inaudible sigh of relief passed more than one set of lips—they found a friend in the kitchen—salmon. For the second task, the chefs prepared a modern restaurant course. The main ingredients were two whole, bone-in lamb roasts, and one de-boned thin brisket of lamb. The winning dish must contain at least one dairy product in addition to organic butter. According to the competition regulations, the champion is the chef who “has, with elegant feeling, shown innovation within the tradition and delivered a well-performed gastronomic craftsmanship.”
Tomas Diederichsen, Ulfsunda Slott, Bromma
Filip Fastén, Le Rouge, Stockholm
Robert Hedman, Hufvudsta Gård Mat & Möten, Solna
Jakob Lells, Skanörs Gästgifvaregård, Skanör
Klas Lindberg, Klas Lindberg Mat & Vin, Hägersten
Daniel Räms, Räms Mat & Gastronomi, Stockholm
1st Place: Tomas Diederichsen, Ulfsunda Slott, Bromma
Chef Tomas Diederichsen prepared a lightly preserved salmon with Jerusalem artichokes, shiitake mushrooms, dill, lemon, and a ragoût of apples, yellow beets, barley, and browned butter for the first course. For his second course he served roasted lamb, lamb sausage, and a ragu of lamb brisket with mushrooms, apricots, toasted barley, eggplant caviar, pressed fennel, and carrot with grated licorice.
2nd Place: Jakob Lells, Skanörs Gästgifvaregård, Skanör
3rd Place: Klas Lindberg, Klas Lindberg Mat & Vin, Hägersten