Director, Producer & Interviewer: Catherine McMaster
Photographer: Thomas Cockram
Videographer: Matt Robinson
Words by: Imogen Smith
Shot on location in Malmo, Sweden for Gaggenau
Swedish chef Daniel Berlin celebrates seasonality in his cooking, whether at home or in his two-Michelin starred restaurant, Daniel Berlin Krog. Sharing his beliefs and approach to food without compromise, we meet the chef at his home in Malmo.
Michelin-star chef Daniel Berlin thrives in the face of a challenge. “I don’t like the easy way,” he says referring to how readily and easily chefs can access produce today, never mind whether it’s in season or not. “I want it to be a little bit harder,” Berlin says unwaveringly emphasising his aim to source 80% of the food served in his eponymous restaurant within a three-mile radius all through foraging, hunting and gathering.
By no means a modern concept, foraging is a survival method with origins dating back to paleolithic times. In more recent times, we have adopted this stone-age practice as part of the mainstream and it is often considered one of the core characteristics of Nordic cuisine, celebrated for its locally-sourced ingredients and innovative techniques. In Swedish culture for example the Allemansrätt or ‘right to roam’ is part of the way of life and it is chefs such as Daniel who promote this long-adopted principal and ultimately pave a way for more challenging and creative cooking at the highest level.
Not only a means to find food, foraging is a skill that requires knowledge, diligence and patience. Something Berlin understands and respects as he describes how foraging is a means to fully understand the food he prepares and serves. “If you don’t understand, it’s impossible to cook at the level I want to be at.”
Located in Skåne Tranås, Southern Sweden, the 14-cover restaurant with adjoining guesthouse, resembles a traditional semla cake: soft and unassuming yet flavoured with unexpected flavours like cardamom and marzipan. Inside the clotted-cream hued cottage building or skanelänga, the dining room is light with only a couple of abstract art works punctuating the walls. Service is friendly and personable.
Completely self-funded, Berlin still operates the restaurant and guesthouse, out of his own pocket and since opening in 2010, his parents have played integral roles in its running, with his father, Per-Anders initially working as the sommelier while his mother, Irene, worked as a member of the service team before becoming responsible for the restaurant’s ever-expanding garden.
As a father and as a professional chef, Berlin always tries to cook with the best local produce available. The flavour combinations on each plate may look simple – his signature beech-charred celeriac cooked in an open fire, for example – but within the different layers of taste and texture, he creates a true representation of the southern Swedish terroir he lives and operates in.
At home, Berlin operates under the same guiding principles as he does when at his restaurant, sourcing native ingredients and preparing them using quality equipment. Watching the chef move between seasoning a pan of sizzling Trumpet Royale mushrooms to chopping delicate sprigs of thyme and then finishing the dish with a final flourish of warm, herb-scented butter, Berlin’s ease within the open-plan kitchen is obvious. “It’s a space where we can be together as a family or with friends and the difference is in the quality of the equipment. I love to feel the quality in things so of course this impacts the way I feel when I cook, it’s very simple.”
His Gaggenau kitchen is complete with a Gaggenau combi-steam oven and cooktop. It’s at the heart of his family home and a space where Berlin’s close-knit family can congregate together and enjoy his seasonal recipes and freshly sourced ingredients. “With a kitchen like this, it makes it a little bit more fun and a little bit easier to do, he explains. “It’s about being together, an open space for the family, for the friends, for everybody.”