Sweden – the New Culinary Nation
Sweden – the new culinary nation
A vision formulated by the Swedish Ministry for Rural Affairs in order to promote Swedish cuisine and agriculture. Long, bright spring and summer evenings, diverse produce and manufacturing methods, a unique natural environment and world class chefs make Sweden a
culinary nation well worth discovering.
Where it all started
In July 2008, Sweden’s Minister for Rural Affairs, Eskil Erlandsson presented his and the Swedish government’s vision for ‘Sweden – the New Culinary Nation’ – causing something of a media stir.
The vision aims to puts Sweden on the culinary map by capitalising on the purity of Sweden’s raw ingredients, the responsible animal husbandry, the diversity of food production and manufacturing methods – as well as the healthy lifestyle of Swedes.
The strategy to make this vision a reality brings together a number of projects focusing on five areas; restaurants, food tourism, processed food, public food and food production.
It’s about good food and world-class food experiences - the combination of Sweden’s nature, flavours and some of the purest raw ingredients in the world. It’s about creative chefs and a modern, environmentally aware approach to leadership in restaurants and food-related businesses that take responsibility for the products being prepared and served.
It’s also about how food experiences are part of the typical Swedish lifestyle. How hunting in the forests, fishing in the lakes and foraging in the woods is a part of life. How enjoying food that tastes good, that is good for you, and that is produced in a responsible and environmentally sustainable manner, is the way of the future.
The new gastronomic Mecca
In terms of landmass, Sweden is one of the largest countries in Europe. A long, narrow country stretching 1,500 km from north to south, it is larger than Germany and Italy. And with a population of just 9.3 million and around 97% of the country uninhabited, its pristine nature and unexploited coastline are two of the country’s greatest assets.
Culinary traditions vary considerably from region to region, depending on the local climate and agricultural and fishing conditions. Over the centuries the regions have developed their own methods for raising crops and harvesting their pastures, forests, lakes and seas, as well as different ways of preserving, smoking and curing. Regional cuisine is as varied in Sweden as it is in Italy or Spain.
Chefs and restaurants play a crucial role in Sweden’s food vision. After all, it’s in the restaurants that visitors from around the world can fully experience the taste of Sweden.
Regional cuisine is the focus for Sweden’s new wave of talented chefs. They combine high-quality, local raw ingredients and traditional preparation methods in a modern approach to cooking. They use these raw ingredients in a modern context, developing and infusing them with influences from around the world.
Swedish chefs have established an international reputation for their skills, dependability and leadership capacity. In international culinary competitions such as the Bocuse d’Or and the Culinary Olympics, Sweden has performed very well. At Bocuse d'Or 2011, Swedish chef Tommy Myllymäki took second spot. Two years earlier, in 2009, Swedish chef Jonas Lundgren was also runner-up. And at the Culinary Olympics 2010, the Swedish team finished second behind Singapore.
The restaurant scene is thriving in Sweden, helped by international interest in our culinary traditions. Swedish chefs are regularly invited to participate in events and seminars around the world, while international chefs come to Sweden to experience for themselves what they have read about in the international media.
Eleven restaurants in Sweden have been awarded stars by the Michelin Guide, and Sweden is the only Nordic country with two two-starred restaurants, Mathias Dahlgren’s Matsalen and Frantzén/Lindeberg. Three Swedish restaurants, Frantzén/Lindeberg, Fäviken Magasinet and Mathias Dahlgren are listed in The San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
Across the board
Sweden – The New Culinary Nation sponsors Sweden’s participation in international competitions like the Bocuse d’Or with the goal of promoting the modern Swedish approach to food.
At grass roots level Sweden is trying to ease the bureaucratic burden on restaurants. From fine dining to roadside eateries around the country, Sweden wants to offer its guests good food.
Into the wild
Hunting, fishing and foraging are very much a part of the Swedish lifestyle.
For example, snow grouse are hunted in the mountainous far north in wintertime. In the autumn, Swedes forage for elusive cloudberries, perfumed wild raspberries and abundant lingonberries in the immense forests. Lucky foragers find orange chanterelles and the coveted cep. A huge variety of fruits and vegetables are grown in gardens and orchards around Sweden - strawberries, cherries, red currant, gooseberries and delicate root vegetables, all characterized by an aromatic, nuanced taste and refreshing acidity.
Fishing for salmon and trout in Sweden’s rivers and lakes, or eating freshly caught west coast shrimp straight off the boat, is a must. Diving for delicious Swedish belon oysters at Grebbestad, also on Sweden’s west coast, is another tempting taste adventure. There are also newer gastronomic adventures to experience. Around 20 years ago, the much sought after truffle of the Burgundy strain, Tuber uncinatum, was discovered on the islands of Gotland and Öland in the Baltic Sea, and has attracted avid truffle hunters from all around the world.
The world’s most northerly whisky distillery in Ådalen, outside Kramfors, recently opened to visitors, joining the world-renowned Swedish whisky producer Mackmyra located outside the city of Gävle. In Skåne and Öland Island in the south, so many new vineyards have been established that they now have their own wine festival – the summertime Åhus Vinfest.
Not in the city
Some of the country’s most pioneering culinary venues are located far from the three major cities in Sweden; Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö. In a small village in the picturesque province of Dalarna in central Sweden, chef Viktor Angmo of Dala-Husby Hotell presents one of the most creative and delicious menus in the country. Chef Per Bengtsson, at the PM & Vänner restaurant in the city of Växjö in the south, features local-only produce accompanied by wines selected by world champion sommelier Andreas Larsson.
Just north of Åre, Sweden’s biggest ski resort lies the village of Fäviken. This is the setting for Fäviken Magasinet, a restaurant run by Magnus Nilsson (formerly of triple Michelin-starred restaurant L’Astrance in Paris). The restaurant features wild flavours and textures in a highly rustic environment. The menu is culled from whatever Magnus and his crew can hunt, fish and forage in the surroundings.
At the other end of Sweden, in the small village of Skåne Tranås in the south, chef Daniel Berlin runs his eponymous restaurant serving produce from Skåne, which is regarded as the Tuscany of Sweden.
Encouraging small companies
Sweden – The New Culinary Nation focuses on helping companies that combine food and tourism. Small-scale food production is encouraged and supported in various ways. The number of dairy farms, slaughterhouses, fisheries and other small companies is growing rapidly, as is the number of microbreweries, cider makers, wine producers and distilleries.
Processed food and food exports
Bread and cheese
The processed food industry is one of Sweden’s largest employers and is spread out across the country. It includes enterprises of all sizes – from small companies selling handcrafted foodstuffs locally, to large corporations that market their products around the world.
Products from the north are based on what the harsh landscape provides; lavvu - smoked reindeer meat souvas; jams and marmalades made from cloudberry; Arctic raspberry and lingonberry; tunnbröd - the crispy flatbread; and the unique cellar-matured goat’s cheese featured in the Slow Food movement heritage list, ‘the Ark of Taste’.
Small-scale artisan food producers sell much of their produce at local markets. More widely distributed are Västerbotten, the flavourful hard cow’s-milk cheese and surströmming, the strong-smelling can-fermented herring that is usually washed down with a few shots of spiced Swedish aquavit.
The core of Swedish processed food production and food exports is based on a long tradition of farming – grains, livestock and dairy. It allows Swedes to enjoy a wide variety of dairy products and a great selection of high quality meat-based products. Also, the grain growing areas of central and southern Swede provide the raw materials for Sweden’s obsession with artisan bread and long history of spirit production.
To attract more entrepreneurs to the processed food sector, the Swedish government aims to make the industry less complicated and bureaucratic. Its goal is to increase the number of companies by 20% by 2020 ¬– with the main focus being on small and medium-sized businesses.
Much of the funding will go towards helping innovative small and medium-sized companies, environmentally friendly food production and organic production.
The aim is to double Swedish food exports (currently SEK 50 billion) by 2020. Food companies will receive support to participate in international fairs and exhibitions. The qualities that characterize Swedish food - it’s nature, sustainable production methods, responsible animal husbandry and a innovative approach to leadership – will be promoted globally to make Swedish products better known.
The food ambassadors of the future
Sweden is a forerunner in school meals, having introduced the free-school-meal for all school children just after the Second World War. Around 2 million school meals are served in Sweden every day and they are a reference for Swedish children who are the politicians, farmers, chefs, and restaurant guests of the future. School meals are also an important tool for developing future attitudes towards food and an appreciation for quality.
Sweden – The New Culinary Nation has chosen some schools as standard setting and they will serve as role models for others. These are schools that serve locally sourced, organic and homemade meals. Of late, the demand for locally sourced school meals has increased dramatically.
A national centre of competence in the field of public food will be created. The centre aims to assist, stimulate and develop meals for schools, homes for the elderly and hospitals.
Investing in the future
High-quality agricultural produce, meat and dairy products from respectfully treated animals, as well as fish and seafood from sustainable fisheries, is sacrosanct in Sweden. This is what Sweden will be investing in – a future for food that will benefit everyone.
There will be more research into what is already the unique marketing edge of Swedish foods – pure, quality produce stemming from unique growing conditions. The effects of the long, light spring and summer evenings on the taste of our products will be researched and safeguarded.
More investment will go into environmentally friendly methods of food production. For instance, the increased number of smaller slaughterhouses reduces transportation times, which is better for the animals and for the environment.
With a clean environment and a solid base of good quality food produce, a thriving restaurant scene, an exciting small-scale artisan food sector, and an overall healthy, modern lifestyle, Sweden is a food destination of the future.
Communicating the vision
To help implement the plan, 26 regional ambassadors have been appointed, one for each province of Sweden. Whether they are farmers, chefs, restaurateurs or businesspeople, their role is to inspire, educate and articulate the vision of Sweden as the new food nation.
An annual food conference, ‘The culinary nation conference’ will be held on the beautiful island of Öland in the Baltic Sea. It is one of several events where food enthusiasts and professionals can debate and exchange ideas about the future of food.
An Expert Council, consisting of twelve food professionals who are leaders in their particular areas of expertise, has been appointed. They will give the Minister for Rural Affairs input and ideas about how to continuously develop, widen and ensure the implementation of the vision.
The communication strategy of Sweden – The New Culinary Nation is governed by Sweden’s official travel and tourist information body, VisitSweden, the Board of Agriculture, and the Swedish Trade Council. The strategy runs over a five-year period and will be implemented across several media channels.
For more information, please contact:
Communications Manager, Sweden – the new culinary nation
VisitSweden, Sveav. 21,Box3030, 103 61Stockholm
Phone: +46 709 99 45 00