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Titti Qvarnström: New Nordic Cuisine is not for everyone. It takes time. It needs patience...
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Titti Qvarnström: New Nordic Cuisine is not for everyone. It takes time. It needs patience.

The only Michelin starred Scandinavian woman chef, the co-founder/head-chef of Malmö’s “Bloom in the Park”, Titti Qvarnström has cooked all parts of animal, including ears and balls; and she has a reason for that.

What are your earliest food memories?

– One way or another, they all related with nature: A magic summer morning, grass under barefoot, the sweet smell of green leaves and flowers…

Back then, what was your family food traditional like?

– I grew up in a home with very typical food. Sweeden is not good with culinary traditions. We love trying new things so much that we have lost a great part of our culinary heritage.

…And it became the “New Nordic Cuisine”. So, how would you describe this new cuisine? How did it reshape?

– With more or less no gastronomic tradition to carry on, the young chefs of the new millennium have had to reinvent Nordic Cuisine all over again. We have almost become like a unity rebelled against the food that we grew up with, which is called “husmanskost”. Up-to-date way of cooking has greater values than the traditional one, because it features environmental aspects, work ethics and sourcing from the nearest land.

Titti Qvarnström in "Bloom in The Park" kitchen. Photo credit: Courtesy of "Bloom in the Park"

Titti Qvarnström in “Bloom in The Park” kitchen. Photo credit: Courtesy of “Bloom in the Park”

Tell us more about your restaurant, “Bloom In the Park.” How did you form?

– It has been an adventurous trip. We, my partner Igi and I, have worked out on how to perfectionize the “No Menu” concept. This is what makes us unique as a restaurant. The will is to improve the curiosity and to investigate new things together with a healthy dose of self-criticism that keeps us moving forward.

What has changed in Malmö after three restaurants were awarded a Michelin star last year?

-The Michelin Guide has boosted an already bubbling and developing food scene. Later on, Skåne has been featured on NYT’s “52 Places to Go in 2016” list, and it has also given an extra vitamin injection to the area.

What’s the most stressful thing about being the one and only Michelin starred Scandinavian woman chef?

– Nobody has paved the way for me. I feel like I am breaking a new land; I have to deal with all these questions concerning women in the restaurant business by myself. Of course, women can cook. Of course, woman can earn a Michelin star. This should not be on the news.

My two favourite ingredients are onion and tomato. They promise endless creations. There are no limits to what can be made out of them and yet they have the purest shape, and the best taste.

Some food critics believe Scandinavian cuisine is overrated. What do you think?

– Scandinavian Cuisine is not comforting like a bowl of pasta; it is challenging and not everybody will appreciate or understand easily. It takes time. It needs a lots of patience.

What kind of cuisines or food trends are you drawn to, and which ones do you avoid?

– I am fascinated by Japanese cuisine and intrigued by many Middle Eastern dishes. Fun fact: Malmö is famous for its falafel! I am interested anything that is freshly made just as much as I detest foods that are pre-produced or manipulated.

What’re your rituals on creativity?

– To be creative it´s important to be able to shut of all other things. That’s when creativity starts. I find my inspiration in nature when season changes. Everything grows and blossoms in a magical way.

Which ingredients make you excited most?

– My two favourite ingredients are onion and tomato. They promise endless creations. There are no limits to what can be made out of them and yet they have the purest shape, and the best taste.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Titti Qvarnstrom

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Titti Qvarnstrom

What did you eat breakfast today?

– I had two healthy-sized cups of coffee with milk, two slices of Danish rye bread with potatoes, tartar sauce, red onions and blue cheese with fresh green leaves.

What’s your all-time favourite dish?

– Pickled herring. I can eat this like candy!

What is the weirdest thing you ever cooked?

– I am always up for a challenge and take pride in using all parts of an animal. I find myself cooking everything from ears to balls.   – (Revised, and re-edited from an interview by Ali Tufan Koc)

Cover Photo Credit: Titti Qvarnström in Malmö / Courtesy of “Bloom in the Park”


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