Magnus Nilsson at The Loft Project in London

Luciana Bianchi - 15/02/2011

It is not easy to carry your territory with you. Not easy at all! Chefs are now presenting their work around the world with the intention to attract new guests to their restaurants, and to make the general public interested in their concepts and ideas. There are congresses, gatherings, small and large presentations, dinner parties, and pop-up restaurants around the world. In London, there is a unique and very special project to help chefs to promote their work and share experiences. The Loft Project is not a Pop-up restaurant. The idea of Nuno Mendes and Clarise Faria is to give the opportunity to talented chefs to show their work, and stage some of their ideas in a very relax and casual environment.

Sebastian, Alex, Ivo and Magnus at The Loft Project

A gallery cannot exhibit a full collection of an artist. It is always a fragment of the artist's work, and through the exhibition, the viewers have a possibility to get to know the artist's style, and become more interested to know more about his work and ideas. That is what The Loft Project does.

The very talented mixologist from Viajante, the restaurant from Nuno Mendes, Alex McKechnie

After the event, the guests want to know more about the chef. They talk to other people about it. Journalists discuss the limitations and positive aspects with other journalists, and at the end, more people are interested about the chef and his restaurant.

It is as if the chef is at home, cooking for friends. Sometimes he doesn't have all tools or ingredients he needs, his producers are not delivering the goods at his door step, but he is sharing a fragment of his work, having fun and cooking great food with no show, but authenticity.

The chefs have to leave their restaurants behind, and as in a jazz jam session, open their minds and spirits to adapt to the this new environment without loosing their identity. The guests have a dialogue with the chef, try some of his dishes, and feel curios about the dimension of his work at home. They feel the desire to experience a visit to his restaurant, or, in the case of sous-chefs, follow their career until they become restaurant owner themselves.

The visit of Magnus Nilsson in London was special. He could give to the guests at The Loft a glimpse of what Faviken is in an exciting but simple way.

He spoke about his produce, complained about not having the exact same possibilities and tools in London (what a surprise!), and at the end, he won a group of foodies who are now all counting the days to be able to visit his restaurant in Sweden.

No, he didn't manage to fully express his cuisine in London, but can anyone expect that? What he did was truly original, his dishes were simple and delicious, his ideas were fresh and a few of them even groundbreaking.

The menu:

A little lump of very fresh cheese still warm and served in the whey, lavender. Wild trouts roe served in a crust of dried pigs blood. Crispy Lichens and garlic cream. Shavings of old dried sow. Scallops cooked over burning juniper branches. Brown trout, oatmeal, vinegar jelly, leeks, shavings of swede, dried hyssop. Root vegetables, cream whisked with vinegar fermented beer, salted cods roe. Wood pigeon, steamed broccoli leafs, potatoes and a cream off duck eggs and mature cheese. The rest of the pigeon, raw cockles and sprouted barley. Sorbet of sour milk, apples and a whisked egg. Dried berries and meadowsweet pastilles.

Miles Irving, the famous English forager, was among us the first evening, enjoyed the dinner, and agreed about the importance of the chefs travelling and interacting with the local food lovers, chefs and producers:

“It is an experience in which the chef leaves something to people to think about it, and takes something with him too. The Loft Project gives that space for chefs to experiment and review their own limitations. It is a great project to stage ideas, and to share knowledge and experiences”.

Miles was also impressed about the Lapland experience and the visit of Magnus Nilsson to The Loft, and is planning to visit the Nordic countries to learn more about their foraging possibilities, and to exchange ideas with the local foragers and chefs. During the dinner, the help of several enthusiastic Swedish guests was very important, as they were talking about their territory, sharing with us stories and beautiful experiences, compensating our lack of knowledge about Swedish food and culture.

Yes, I am ashamed to confess that I never had any interest to visit Sweden before. I don't know much about the country, their food, the produce, or even can pronounce the name of many Swedish chefs and restaurants. Now, after having seen Magnus Nilsson cooking in Lapland at Cook it Raw, and in London, with all his limited possibilities to express his full potential, I want to go to Sweden! I am very intrigued with the new development of the Nordic Cuisine movement, and wish to find out more about this very (VERY!) young and talented chef , and possibly many others, in their own terroir!


by Nuno Mendes & Clarise Faria

Photos - Luciana Bianchi

Luciana Bianchiis chef de cuisine and food writer, works as International Editor correspondent for the Brazilian gourmet magazine,Prazeres da Mesa, and contributes to several publications in Brazil and Europe.
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