A gourmet banquet has more in common with the opening act of a play than you'd at first think...
It wouldn’t be a stretch to compare a gourmet banquet to, say the opening act of a famous play—one by Shakespeare, or Ibsen or Strindberg. Both the banquet and the play involve working with a particular script, ﬁnding dramatic peaks, selecting individual ingredients, plus choosing the stage design... We may know the road map well but nevertheless wish to be charmed, seduced and surprised by some new unexpected angle as “the plot” unfolds. The recent Taste of Gothenburg event at Kendall College organized by the Gothenburg Committee of Chicago Sister Cities International offered everything you could ever ask for from a gourmet banquet perspective.
It’s been 25 years since the sister city agreement between Chicago and Göteborg was signed and the committee under the capable leadership of Agneta Rosenberg, has made Chicago notice the milestone through a host of successful events.
Healthy cooking part of our heritage Healthy cooking and eating habits are part and parcel of the Scandinavian and Swedish heritage. On October 10 this was evidenced when Michelin-starred Göteborg chef Håkan Thörnström visited Kendall College in Chicago to prepare the Taste of Gothenburg five-course gourmet meal together with chief instructors and students. It’s no wonder that some of the world’s most celebrated chefs today hail from our region in Europe’s north: it’s simply returning to our roots, finding what’s available now and making the most of it with a limited amount of ingredients in a way that’s healthy for the body, the community we live in and the environment.
Recently Condé Nast Traveler named Sweden “Europe’s surging culinary star,” and at the forefront of the latest global cooking trends.The grassroots foodie movement sweeping the world is known by many names -farm-to-fork, farm-to-table, slow food - but at the heart is a growing respect for fresh local ingredients that are harvested and distributed sustainably. In Scandinavia, where importing fruits and vegetables was not only a necessity but also much of the time cost-prohibitive the trend is nothing new. Here, serving what works seasonally in a creative combination of marinated and naturally preserved condiments or side dishes, dates back to when fresh fruits and vegetables were not as easily accessible as they are now.
The evening's "director" “I am proud to have been chosen and it feels great to be back in the U.S. for this event,” Thörnström said. “I have so many warm and happy memories from earlier visits to America with for instance the Swedish national gastronomic team of the 1990s.”
The Chicago event could not have asked for a better “director” to stage a gourmet meal with a distinct Swedish west coast flare for the 100 guests dining at the culinary arts college. Håkan Thörnström opened his Michelin-starred restaurant Thörnströms Kök in 1997 and ever since has been a leading figure in the renaissance of Swedish cuisine. In 2011, he and his wife Anne won Restaurateur of the Year and Thörnströms Kök won Restaurant of the Year at the Restaurant Awards, presented by the publication RS - Restaurants & Catering in collaboration with the Swedish Chefs Association, the Swedish Sommelier Association and the Swedish Bartenders Guild.
1. Cured marinated salmon (Reportedly quite favorably judged by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel)
2. Fried scallops with purée of Jerusalem artichoke infused with Matjesill, browned butter and spicy red bell pepper compote.
3. Confit of halibut with chanterelles, bacon and Swedish pickles.
4. Matured crème of goat cheese with cauliflower, black truffle and croutons.
5. Cinnamon fambéed apple with sorbet of lemon, honey and yoghurt served with with a vanilla crust.
All served with domestic wines, a Riesling from Willamette Valley and a Marimar Torres Pinot Noir from Russian Valley
Sometimes it is true what they say about some things taking a village... Thörnström himself brought some important spices to create the special west coast touch but we also heard whispers of for instance Swedish American Museum’s Karin Abercrombie cruising downtown with bags full of chanterelles in the early hours of the day...
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Anneli Hulthén, Mayor of Gothenburg with Chicago Sister Cities Internationals’ Leroy Allala, Executive Director and Samuel C. Scott, Chairman of the Board are met at Kendall College by one of the college’s Swedish students, Lina from Göteborg.
Chef Thörnström demonstrates the look of every dish. “Working with twenty students rather than my usual crew of three was never a challenge,” Thörnström said. “They [the students] are all so very well educated, attentive and diciplined.”
Above, L-R: Don Ahlm, instrumental in making the evening a reality; Adrienne Tongate of Chicago Sister Cities International; Lars-Göran Larsson, Director International Relations for the City of Gothenburg; Kerstin Lane, former Swedish Honorary Consul General.