Björn Frantzén: The journey of a Nordic chef

An interview with the Swedish superchef as he brings his Arctic berries to Dubai for a guest spot at Palazzo Versace.

June 15, 2016

You can find some pretty weird and wonderful things on Dubai menus, but lingonberries, buckthorn, moss, burnt hay, fir tree and cloudberries – well, that’s something else all together.

The new chef behind the stove at Palazzo Versace’s restaurant concept, Enigma, that sees four guest chefs each spend three months at the hotel, is Björn Frantzén.

The man who has two Michelin stars at Restaurant Frantzén in Stockholm, told EDGAR about his Dubai pop-up: Journey of a Nordic Chef - read our review of it right here.

What is Nordic cuisine?

It’s a very ingredient-driven gastronomy. The extreme climate in our part of the world – summer and winter can be as much 60-70 degrees difference – creates unique ingredients. The winter is so long and dark there's a lot of fermenting, pickling and preserving going on – we have to do it because it's all snow out there. 

This is Nordic cuisine’s debut in Dubai – how do you think it will be received?

That’s exactly why I said yes to coming here. I want to spread the message of Nordic cuisine around the world. This menu is my take on Nordic cuisine from 2008 to now, like a time-lapse idea. 

What does white moss taste like?

Not much, to be honest, but it gives texture. We deep fry them, so it's like a crispy potato nest. 

What’s your approach to food presentation?

Number one is always flavour but, having said that, the first thing you eat with is your eyes. I want my food to look natural. If the food looks terrible, it's not a good start. 

What do you want diners to feel in your restaurants?

I don't want people to say, “Hmm, that was really interesting.” I want every dish to be kick-ass good and explode in your mouth.

Do you think people still want to go to fine dining restaurants?

Something is definitely changing in the fine dining world. There's a new generation who are more into having fun in a relaxed atmosphere than the old fine dining temples where you feel like you're walking into a library. I like to hear noise in a restaurant and see people moving around. 

Do Michelin stars add more pressure to your job?

Not at all. The pressure I put on myself is much bigger than the pressure from the Michelin stars. The stars are simply the effect of how hard we push ourselves. We don't think about the Michelin stars until the day they come out and then we have 364 days of hard work in front of us. 

Journey of a Nordic Chef runs until June 30. Twelve courses AED 750 weekdays or AED 850 weekends. Eight courses AED 550 weekdays or AED 650 weekends.