We don’t know about you, but “fresh” and “local” weren’t exactly the words that Scandinavian food typically brought to our mind a few years ago — “gray” and “starchy” were more like it. Not surprising in a part of the world where winter is longer than the growing season and much food must be preserved or imported. And yet the chefs who make up the “New Nordic Cuisine,” such as Noma’s Rene Redzepi, are as passionate about making fresh flavors out of the barest twigs and sprigs growing in Scandinavia as any Italian chef is about the fields of Tuscany. At the industry conference PlateCooks in Chicago last week, Marcus Jernmark, who took over from Marcus Samuelsson at New York’s Aquavit two years ago, spoke about the challenge of representing Nordic locavorism an ocean away in New York City.
Some things, like certain Nordic greens, he has grown and flown in from the West Coast because they’re essential to his idea of Nordic cuisine. Other times, he’s adapted his dishes to what’s best in this country — he loves Kumamoto oysters, for instance, even though they don’t precisely resemble the oysters he’d get in Sweden. And in some ways he’s like any other locavore chef in New York — a terrific tomato gelée in his dish was making its farewell appearance, he said, as tomato season ended.
We spoke with him after his presentation about how much the New Nordic Cuisine resembles how people eat today in Scandinavian countries. Watch our short video interview below.