SHARJAH – A delectable Stockholm-style blueberry crumble was on the Thursday high tea menu at the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF), presented by none other than Swedish Michelin Star chef, Niklas Ekstedt.
The reknowned chef has been on a mission to bring back traditional cooking to the culinary scene in Sweden and is introducing it to the rest of the world.
“Swedish cooking is very different from what one finds in other parts of Europe. Scandinavian cooking traditions haven’t been as well preserved and passed down generations like the Italians and the French, for instance. In the 1950s electricity came into our kitchens and women stepped out of their homes to find employment. In the middle of it all, authentic Swedish cooking on open fires, simple fresh ingredients, and just a few pots and knives, began to disappear,” he said as he combed the flour, berries, sugar and the other ingredients in the pie dish.
At age twenty-one, Ekstedt started his first restaurant, ‘Niklas’, in the harbor town of Helsingborg, Sweden. He was listed ‘the best business restaurant’ in Sweden by newspaper ‘Dagens Industri’ in 2003 and the fifth best restaurant in Sweden by the restaurant guide ‘White’ in 2005.
“When I opened my first restaurant, surprisingly the locals were more interested in other cuisines like Japanese, Indian and others. It was not until I was written about in The Guardian, that people in Sweden and abroad came to know about me. My second restaurant in Stockholm, simply named ‘Ekstedt’, is based on the simple Swedish concept of cooking all raw ingredients over an open fire,” Niklas said.
“Traditional cooking is important, and it is disappearing. Through my restaurants, which don’t seat more than thirty people at once, and bookings need to be made a month in advance, I try to recreate the magic of rustic Swedish cooking that grandma would make at home,” he added.
At the end of the live demonstration, the attendees of the session sank their teeth in a piece of fresh blueberry pie with a side of fresh whipped cream.