Reinforcing its status as the culinary hotbed of Northern Europe, Gothenburg has been named the Culinary Capital of Sweden 2012.
At a recent ceremony led by Sweden’s Minister for Agriculture, Eskil Erlandsson, the city was awarded the prestigious title in recognition of its wealth and quality of natural produce, often incorporating fresh ingredients from the west coast.
Judges were impressed by Gothenburg’s fantastic partnerships within West Sweden – connecting town and countryside, small-scale and industrial food production – explaining that this helps to make the city very attractive to national and international visitors.
Vara (also set in West Sweden) picked up the bronze award in the competition, a rural town with an impressive array of primary food producers, restaurants, farm shops and culinary experiences.
This competition forms part of a national initiative to promote Sweden as the ‘New Culinary Nation’, a project in partnership with Visit Sweden and the Swedish Trade Council. The project highlights the amazing efforts and range of foodie businesses throughout Sweden, as well as the successful creation of jobs and other key developments in the ‘New Culinary Nation’.
Gothenburg’s foodie scene has seen fantastic growth over the past few years. Gothenburg boasts five Michelin-starred restaurants – unique for such a small city – and as a major fishing port, it has an abundance of top notch seafood restaurants.
What’s more, Gothenburg is the only Swedish city in the international network ‘Delice’, a collective of good food cities across the world, including Lyon, Barcelona, Chicago, Montreal and Osaka.
There’s also the successful Taste of West Sweden scheme – a network of 25 gastronomic eateries that make the most of West Sweden’s first-class produce. Visitors can experience some of the most taste bud tantalising produce at these restaurants which are located in an array of naturally beautiful settings – islands, deep forest and rich farmland.
Chef Ulf Wagner, who took over from the legendary Leif
Mannerström at Restaurant Sjömagasinet and food writer, Maria Zihammou, share their thoughts about what makes the foodie scene in West Sweden so special:
Why is the food from West Sweden gaining such popularity?
Maria Zihammou says: “There is an increased focus on regional produce. We have amazing natural ingredients in this region, not least our oysters which are considered the best in the world. Swedes also eat out in restaurants more often than they did only a few years ago, and the restaurateurs have felt able to invest more into their businesses, partly since Gustav Trädgårdh (who works at Sjömagasinet) was awarded Chef of
the Year and the opening of Basement (which now has a Michelin star), which gave Gothenburg an incredible boost and saw a new generation of chefs emerged.”
Ulf Wagner says: “Not much has changed, really. It is more due to the current trend of ‘back to basics’ – back to honesty and quality ingredients – something we do well. We have good raw materials, traditional cuisine and skilled chefs. We were once solely a farming society based on self-sufficiency, where we used everything from the fields, the forests, and the ocean. When my mother moved to Sweden from Austria in 1949, the only place where you could buy garlic was the chemist. As a country with restaurants, we have been late developers. But in the last few years, the quality of the chefs, the attitude to restaurant food and the level of consumer awareness have all risen. What we need to improve now is the hospitality – how to look after our guests and other cultures in the best possible way.”