Tuesday, May 17, 2011

You know you've been away from Sweden too long … Top Chef Version

OK, I've written here before about my weakness for Top Chef and cooking reality TV shows. I've also written about my struggle to fully appreciate Swedish cuisine. So, it was only time before I addressed the fact that Top Chef Masters (a reality TV show where celebrity chefs compete against each other in a series of cook-offs) has had not one but TWO Swedish chefs.

Part of me wonders if Swedish restaurant life doesn't suffer because all the great chefs move to New York. But that's another story.

One of the Chefs who is a constant guest on Top Chef and competitor in the Masters version is Nils Noren. During his competition Nils was always on time with his dishes – despite the famously crazy deadlines the show sets.

At one point Nils commented something along the lines of (sorry, I'm too lazy to go thru the old episodes to find the exact quote) “This is because I am Swedish. In Sweden everything is always on time. If you want to take a train, in Stockholm, it is always on time.”

To this I say? “Nils, you have been living in New York too long.”

And for all the dissing I give Swedish cooking, I will also point out that Marcus Samuelsson, another Swedish Chef, won Top Chef Masters last year. Maybe I should check out his restaurant the next time I am in New York.

My favorite Swedish chef is still:


  1. Marcus Samuelsson has a resturant here in Stockholm as well called Street Food, so you don't have to leave the country to experience his food :)

  2. Muppet Show Swedish chef is also my all time favorite. Love his singing as he cooks. Did not know Marcus had a restaurant here. Great, I guess I should go there and try it out. I loved to watch the cooking show they had in the US called "Chopped".
    I totally agree with you that Nils has probably lived in NY for too long. No Swedish trains are not always on time.

  3. >> No Swedish trains are not always on time.

    That makes me confused.

  4. Mazui,

    I think Desiree missed a comma, i.e. she meant to say "No, Swedish trains are not always on time."


    And eeeeeehhhh I dunno. I feel, after nine (WTF? NINE? yes. I graduated nine years ago. welp.) years in the US, that Swedes tend to be more time aware and punctual than Americans, and that although the Swedish public transit options I've used (Jönköping, Skånetrafiken and SL) tend to at least strive to be more on-time than their American counterparts. But of course, nothing is 100%.

  5. >> I think Desiree missed a comma, i.e. she meant
    >> to say "No, Swedish trains are not always on time."

    I know. I was just fooling around. :)

    And when we're talking trains in Sweden we're talking about the national network where they should throw a party for every train that is on time. The times I've used it the last few years, the average delay has been about 15 - 30 minutes if not more. It's a disaster.

    Of course, he did say "trains in Stockholm". I don't know if they are late there, but when there's a train every ten minutes I don't really care that much. I'll just take the next one.

  6. Haha, I guess we can give him the benefit of the doubt - while I do think Swedes do tend to be punctual - perhaps more so than Americans, back when the Swede and I had a rather long commute by train, I think every other train was late. And for stupid reasons, that you would think they had figured out after 2 years time.