Globetrotting Gothenburger Conny Andersson finds home in Venice. Report from America’s newest Swedish-run restaurant with a recipe for the brave.
...Venice, California, that is.
In his rise to super chefdom, travel has always been an integral part of the equation for Swedish-born Conny Andersson. Early on, he hit the high seas as a line cook for the Sessan Passenger Line and later spent a year criss-crossing the globe, managing to find jobs everywhere. In Australia he met Brenda, a California girl who became his wife; they had a son named Journey. In the United States he found a position in 1985 as Chef de Partie at the 5-star restaurant L’Orangerie in Los Angeles; a year later he joined The Four Seasons Hotel, where the network of international properties afforded opportunities to roam the world. The Caribbean, Bali, Cairo, the West Indies, the Maldives … Conny was there, adding to his international repertoire.
But now, after three years as the executive chef at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, which staffs 70 cooks, Conny has opened his own restaurant, and maybe, in the process, found a more permanent address. The name of the restaurant is AK, after its location on the fashionable Abbott Kinney Boulevard in Venice, Los Angeles.
During the hectic days prior to the opening, I was there checking out the premises and having a foretaste of things to come.
Before savoring a few morsels – prepared by a man I consider “God’s gift to the gastric juices” – I took note of the restaurant itself. It has three major spaces, all very contemporary in color and texture.
First there is a bar, featuring two tall, magnificent long tables made from three kinds of wood, a great spot for hanging out with friends; then an al fresco patio beckons, with a sleek fireplace for warming up cool nights; and there is an upstairs balcony room, perfect for private dining, with a wall-mounted screen continuously projecting the activities in the kitchen.
During my visit, Conny was still experimenting with the menu. A special section offered succulent tidbits from his native Sweden.
Sampling a few, I was reminded of a review written by a Swedish journalist who wrote, in rough translation, “Conny Andersson can make any taste-bud shiver with pleasure.”
I asked if he would share one of the recipes with Nordstjernan. “Sure,” he said, ever gracious.
Written and photographed by Bo Zaunders
For more info see http://www.akinvenice.com
SWEDISH MEATBALL GULPS
WITH APPLE AND BEET SALAD, SPICY SWEET MUSTARD
1 lb ground beef
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp oil
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp butter
1. Heat oil in medium sauté pan and cook onions until deep golden brown in color. Once onions have reached desired color, cool off in refrigerator.
2. Place bread crumbs in bowl and soak with milk and water until softened.
3. In a large mixing bowl combine ground beef with bread crumbs, onions and remaining ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for 1 hour to firm.
4. Form meatballs into 2 ounce patties.
5. Brown meatballs in warm sauté pan with whole butter and place into 325 degree oven until desired temperature.
APPLE AND BEET SALAD
2 tbsp mayonnaise, best quality store purchased
1 tbsp Creme Fraiche, best quality store purchased
1 organic apple
1/2 pickled beet, best quality store purchased
salt and white pepper, as desired
1. In a mixing bowl combine mayonnaise with Creme Fraiche and whisk together. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.
2. Julienne apples and pickled beets with mandoline on finest setting. Add to Creme Fraiche and mayonnaise mixture, mix with rubber spatula and set aside.
SPICY SWEET MUSTARD
2 tbsp Colman’s Mustard Powder
2 tbsp half & half
2 tbsp Sugar
salt and white pepper, as desired
1. Warm half and half in 1 quart sauce pan.
2. Add mustard and sugar, whisk until combined very well. Season with salt and white pepper to taste and refrigerate until needed.
4 mini brioche buns
1/4 bunch watercress leaves
1 tbsp butter, softened
1. Brush softened butter onto brioche and toast in 350 degree oven until brown. Brush top of bun with spicy sweet mustard.
2. Place meatball gulp on bun, top with apple and beet salad, as well as picked watercress leaves. Place on warmed serving platter.