Jim Löfdahl – Executive Chef, Frantzén’s Kitchen Hong Kong
Frantzén’s Kitchen is a modern Nordic restaurant that serves medium-sized dishes with Asian influences
Two-Michelin-star chef Björn Frantzén and chef Jim Löfdahl have opened Frantzén’s Kitchen.
Have fun reading this fascinating Q&A session with Jim Löfdahl.
As Executive Chef at Frantzénś Kitchen in Hongkong you are a well experienced international chef. When did it all start? Where does your passion for cooking come from?
It started early years when I grow up, raised up on a large family of 6 people in the family home, my mom always been the one cooking for the whole family. I still remember a lot of traditional Swedish dishes like kalv I dill that was served for dinner, I always had a passion to help out with the cooking, all from making cookies to cook more advanced dishes.
Which cooking school did you visit?
St. Gorans gymnasium, Stockholm with direction for Kitchen.
In Stockholm you have worked as a cook in various locations and positions. What is the difference between Swedish and Norwegian cuisine?
Sorry, cannot tell haven’t been to Norway more than 3 times. 🙂
As Head Chef of Frantzèn/Lindeberg you took the restaurant on the road to do a three month pop up at the Palazzo Versace, Dubai. How was this experience for you?
Really great experience, and to get to cook at the platform of Palazzo Versace that was a great honour.
What motivated you to move to Asia?
The challenge! Now one and a half year after I can just let you know that’s been a great experience and challenge that I am not regretting. We just opened up our second venue here in Hong Kong, The Flying Elk.
Hand on heart: how difficult were the first months with the launch of Frantzénś Kitchen Hong Kong?
It was very tough to sort out everything from constructors to suppliers and staff. A lot of hard work went in to it, but once we opened the staff got trained very well, so I would say that we have a consistent restaurant today.
A dining experience flavoured by the Nordics is the slogan of the Frantzénś Kitchen. What are some dishes that best describe it?
“SWEDISH SUSHI”: crispy lichens, roe deer, cep mayonnaise & frozen bird´s liver.
ARCTIC CHAR ”GRAVLAX”, sweet miso- mustard, rye crisp, dill.
The Nordic cuisine; the big trend in recent years. What makes it so special and so successful, especially in Asia?
I think it’s something new to most of the people, so at first time you dine you will be quite curios on the food which makes it unique, there is not so many Scandinavian restaurants outside Scandinavia if compare to French or Italian restaurants, so defiantly, there is market for it.
Björn Frantzén has moved his restaurant Frantzén from the drawing table to Guide Michelin, awarded with three stars. What is the secret of success?
Hard to tell, off course to keep 80% of the staff from the old location would be a key barrier but also have a platform that’s x5 the size as the old location and putting a lot of time into the test kitchen between the new opening.
Jim Löfdahl about being a chef:
Discover new flavours, pushing bounds.
Do you concentrate more on the Nordic cuisine or a fusion with the Asian influences?
Fusion. I believe you have to attract a vide public to be able to succeed.
Which dish best describes a Nordic/Asian fusion?
CHAWANMUSHI: cauliflower, herring caviar, fermented mushroom juice & thyme.
You moved to Asia as a chef: What was your first impression?
Hectic, moving from a small city as Stockholm to Hong Kong to open up a restaurant without ever being here before, or knowing anyone is almost like being thrown down to the fire.
The Asian cuisine offers endless variety. Do you still have time to dive into the Asian cuisine/very local specialties?
Yes trying to, it’s a bit different in Hong Kong since you have all the kitchens from the whole Asia in a small surface, but really like to try and experience different Asian flavours, some kitchens inspire me more than others.
What are the latest trends in Hong Kong’s cooking/kitchen scene?
There is a lot off new restaurant opening up the whole time, I mean really big turn around of restaurants/stilles etc., so it’s not really a red line into trends, since it’s a metropole with chefs & restaurateurs from the whole globe, a lot of the restaurant groups building concepts, to give costumers different experiences.
Working with local food producers is very important for cooks. Is that possible in Hong Kong? Do you also have close relationships with local food producers?
I do indeed, I work with some local organic pork farms and vegetable farms in New territory close to China, an hour from the HK Island, the products are great but not so big quantity, but I’m building relationship over time, and people really listening and developing so am I.
When young chefs are interested in joining the Frantzénś group; What characterize should they bring with them?
It’s all about you. If you have the right mind set and want to be a part of the team there will always be possibilities.
How would you describe your own cooking style today?
To not put to many things at the plate, work on the tasting palate and bring punchy food salt acidity.
What are your most and less favourite ingredients?
Most: Sea food. Less: Exotic fruits.
What is the best thing about being a chef?
Discover new flavours, pushing bounds.
Thank you, Jim!