Magnus Nilsson in Canada, 2017
Magnus Nilsson in Canada, 2017

5 things we learned from Magnus Nilsson’s Canadian trip

The chef and author of the Nordic Cookbook talked terroir and stars during his recent jaunt

Nordic cuisine might seem a world away from the culinary traditions of North America, yet a few hundred miles of sea is all that separates Canada from the Nordic countries’ most westerly outpost: Greenland.

When Magnus Nilsson, Swedish chef and the man behind The Nordic Cookbook (recently translated into French) - visited Quebec a few days ago, he stressed the similarities and the differences between his native styles of cookery and those found in Canadian homes.

Magnus visited the Swedish embassy, Montreal’s multidisciplinary arts and culture, the Phi Centre, signed books, and met with national press and radio journalists. But it was during an hour-long talk at the Quebec Tourism and Hospitality Institute that the chef revealed the most about his working practices. Here are a few highlights.

 

Magnus Nilsson at the Institut de tourisme et d’hotellerie
Magnus Nilsson at the Institut de tourisme et d’hotellerie

 

Don’t be afraid of customer satisfaction . “"To get to something that works well, we have watched a lot of how our customers react,” Nilsson told the students. “The experience is for them: it must surprise them and please them."

Don’t worry about coming up with your own style. Nilsson says his distinctive style of cuisine is simply the sum of his professional life to date. “It’s the sum of all the experiences and things I have seen over the years.”

Learn what you can where you can. Nilsson spent the early part of his career in Paris, and while he doesn’t cook French food, he said his time in the French capital taught him “the language and culture of a people."

Cook local , not least because many rival chefs probably won’t have tried to. "People are asking how we get so good quality when we are so far from the cities,” he said. “In fact, there is less competition in the region for products: Fäviken is the only restaurant to use the best farmers in the area."

Don’t shoot for the Michelin stars . While Nilsson’s Fäviken restaurant now has two Michelin stars, the Michelin guide didn’t cover its remote Swedish location in the early days, which meant the chef and his team could focus on other things. "It was interesting because we not work for that,” Magnus recalled. “We never changed anything to comply with the rules.”

 

Magnus with local restaurant Joe Beef's chef Marc-Olivier Frappier and owner David McMillan
Magnus with local restaurant Joe Beef's chef Marc-Olivier Frappier and owner David McMillan

For more on the chef’s life and work at Fäviken get our book; and for more on Nordic cuisine get his brilliant cookbook here.