Magnus Nilsson’s Arctic Cuisine

The Mastermind Behind Fäviken Magasinet On the Rewards of “Real Food”

Photographer Howard Sooley captures snowy forest vistas, 19th-century farmhouses, and homegrown delicacies in and around restaurant Fäviken Magasinet in northern Sweden. Set on 24,000 acres of pristine farmland in Järpen, some 750 kilometers north of Stockholm, the 12-seat restaurant is currently one of the hottest culinary spots in Europe. It reportedly has a two- to three-month waiting list––no small feat in a region that on average is inhabited by a single person per square kilometer. Having cut his teeth in Michelin-starred restaurants L'Arpège and L'Astrance, chef Magnus Nilsson took the reins of Fäviken Magasinet in 2008 and set out to create his own version of Scandinavian locavore cuisine. Using seasonal produce, sourcing ingredients locally, and cooking with traditional Swedish techniques, Nilsson has fostered a rustic experience that he refers to as rektún or “real food.” With Fäviken’s grounds covered in snow for six months out of the year, Nilsson relies on pickling, fermenting, curing and other old-fashioned preservation techniques through winter. “It’s not a challenge and no one has forced me to do this,” says Nilsson. “I’ve chosen it, and I really feel it pushes us to be creative and break boundaries.” Here the Swedish chef reveals some of the ingredients for a typical night at Fäviken Magasinet. 

Which dish takes the longest to prepare? 
The slowest dish we have is ribeye of beef—the whole process of choosing the animal, fattening it on grass, butchering and aging takes more than a year.

Do you have pre-shift traditions or superstitions?
We always have a staff meal at 3:30; this includes a briefing about the night ahead. However, on Saturdays we’ll have a three-course staff meal that includes wine, so the staff will always be extra happy on weekends. After service I make everyone pineapple pizza. 

Can you name a few key ingredients? How much do you use in a night?
We use 16kg, or €400-worth, of homegrown veggies—the most expensive thing we ever serve. Sixteen tablespoons of fresh blood (pig, goose, duck or cow). 1,600 grains of trout roe (we don’t really count them every day, just once).

Any recent kitchen mishaps?
Mishaps takes place every day, in different degrees of seriousness, from a chef holding the leek in the wrong way when rinsing it so that sand is pushed in among the leaves, to things going completely rotten in the process of preservation, to experiments ending up rather unhealthy to serve. The process of discovering new or old techniques of preservation is always risky. When we work on something, we continuously send samples to a laboratory for analysis. You would be surprised what sometimes starts growing in them in the process...

Favorite post-service nightcap? 
Coca-Cola.

See Magnus Nilsson's recipe for scallops over burning juniper branches on our Facebook page.

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