After René Redzepi, Magnus Nilsson has quickly become one of the most written-about and fawned over young chefs in the world. This is partly because his story is a good one: Ambitious chef tires of the Michelin-starred Parisian scene and decides to return to a rural part of northern Sweden to become a wine writer, only to end up taking over a small restaurant and lodge and turning it into an ambitious, twelve-seat destination serving a type of Nordic cuisine that is both new and rooted in ancient techniques. Nilsson’s food at his restaurant Faviken Magasinet, and the methods he uses for growing and preserving ingredients in a sub-arctic climate with extra-long winters, are now documented in a new book from Phaidon Press called Faviken. While on his book tour in the U.S., Nilsson made two stops to cook with American chefs, one at Husk in Charleston with Sean Brock, and one this past weekend at Coi in San Francisco with Daniel Patterson.
Grub Street was lucky enough to get a seat at Saturday’s dinner, which was a collaborative effort by Nilsson and Patterson, and now we bring you some photos. While the two chefs share some aesthetic sensibilities, two dishes were most obviously Nilsson’s creations and inspired by things he serves at Faviken: one a dish of oysters just barely cooked over redwood branches and served with a smoldering ember of redwood atop a bed of evergreens; and the other a dish of braised baby turnips under a pile of decomposing leaves. Both were bits of theater not frequently seen in Bay Area dining, with set pieces direct from the forest floor, and they served as good examples of Nilsson’s ethos. Food is environment, and vice versa, and he wants to bring people closer in touch with a sense of place in each aroma and bite.