It's been a busy year and this post has been a long time coming. Since moving to Sweden in early 2013 for a university exchange program, I've taken many interesting classes in sustainability at CEMUS - a student-run organisation in collaboration with Uppsala University, and fallen into all sorts of things that I never saw myself doing. A group of students and I started The Scrap Lunch Project where we collected food waste from local supermarkets in order to provide a free lunch for 110 university students with entertaining educational presentations by a permaculture enthusiast, a chef from Uppsala's concert and congress building which hosts the city's most important cultural events, and a team of local Swedish food bloggers - Glimten i Grytan. I was employed by the university to photograph the preparations for an Education for Sustainable Development conference to be held in Nagoya, Japan; as well as filling in as an art director for Gyckeln Magazine for a few months and scrambling to learn inDesign on the run. The most recent of those things was running a restaurant every Friday.
From September last year, I took up a position of köksmästare or Head Chef of a restaurant run entirely by university students at Kalmar Nation. With a team of 6, we managed to turn the restaurant on its head completely and incredibly students completely flooded our booking system once we were established so that we were fully booked for the majority of the semester. I should mention that it was an entirely vegan and vegetarian restaurant which proved to be quite a challenge. For two special events, we enticed two very lovely bartenders to concoct special drinks to match our changing menus in exchange for food and a couple of kronor. My self-taught and very limited ability to use inDesign came in handy with creating the weekly menus (thank goodness!), and my Swedish partner imparted a lot of her knowledge of traditional Swedish flavours which we incorporated into new dishes.
Working in a kitchen again made me realise just how much I miss cooking for others and feeling constantly challenged in an atmosphere of camaraderie, so I've begun compiling my CV to hopefully find a job over the coming summer. It will be infinitely interesting to see how Swedish kitchens are run.
Xanté sour cocktail made by Maria and Petra for our collaborative event
Cord - a very happy and willing assistant cocktail tester
Our early menu design crafted in inDesign
Pear Dartois (poached pear and frangipane enclosed in puff pastry)
The core group of our amazing köksmästare team - Mareike, Julia, myself and Harriet
Creme brûlée with sea buckthorn berries
Eggplant chilli & mustard sill (traditionally made with pickled herring) and crispy potatoes
Double-baked chèvre soufflé with mache and beetroot
This was a shot taken purely for social media promotion
Vegan and gluten-free sweet potato gnocchi with lemon mash and fried sweet potato skins