Niklas Ekstedt’s CV includes periods at el Bulli and The Fat Duck, but you won’t find any liquid nitrogen at his eponymous restaurant in central Stockholm.
The young chef has scoured culinary history books to revive traditional Swedish cooking techniques, ditching electricity and gas in favour of burning wood as the only heat source in the kitchen. Food is cooked in a wood-fired oven or stove and directly over the flames of a fire pit – the only things powered by electricity in the kitchen is the ice-cream machine – while specially designed chimneys are used for smoking and baking.
By burning a variety of different Scandinavian woods as fuel, Ekstedt achieves different flavours and nuances in the food. “You can create minor miracles with fire, smoke, ashes and soot,” he says. Rather than limiting the chef’s culinary reach, the back-to-basics approach has actually led to a new style of cooking that takes the Nordic food movement in an interesting direction.
Diners choose between a three or five-course menu, which could include dishes such as reindeer baked on glowing embers with smoked ox marrow, sweetbreads cooked in hay and juniper-smoked pike and perch. Chefs clad in blacksmith-style leather aprons toil away at the flames in full view of guests, while the dining room itself is decked out with industrial lamps, bare steel and copper panels.
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