Chef Profile: Sofia B Olsson

By / Food / November 2nd, 2022 / Like

This article originally appeared in the Winter 2021/2022 print issue of Quench Magazine.

Photos supplied by Vrå

The Swedish west coast meets Japan at Vrå

Sofia B Olsson is one of Sweden’s most talented chefs. She started as a sous chef at the restaurant Vrå, in Gothenburg, on the Swedish west coast. The restaurant is inside the Clarion Hotel in the city centre. Two years ago, Ohls-son took over as head chef and started to mix her two big passions with a focus on Swedish ingredients and Japanese techniques. Sofia uses fish and shellfish from the west coast, cheese from local producers, and has made a difference for the local food chain. Her dishes are as beautiful as artwork and every bite pro-vides an explosion of flavor. She has also set the trend among the country’s restaurants to use Swedish oysters. They come from the only oyster producer in Sweden, Lotta Klemming.

FROM WHOM DID YOU GET THE PASSION FOR JAPAN?

I have learned a lot from Toshio Tanahashi who is a Buddhist temple chef that happily shares his knowledge of Shojin cuisine in the world. Toshio has visited us at Vrå twice and guest performed and held workshops. I also stayed with him in Japan, in Niigata. I got to learn more about the incredible tradition, created throughout thousands of years of tradition. A tradition that also includes culture and technique. I also guest-starred at Satoyama Juju which is a design hotel in the mountains with a star restaurant that focuses on the natural cuisine associated with the place. In addition, I have read a lot about Japan and learned from other chefs I have worked with.

WHERE DO YOU LIVE:

Gothenburg, Sweden 

WHERE DID YOU GROW UP:

Partille, close to Gothenburg, Sweden 

FAVOURITE COMFORT FOOD:

Old school Swedish pancakes with homemade jam

FAVOURITE INGREDIENT TO COOK WITH:

Mushrooms and mackerel

DISHES AT VRÅ HAVE A FOCUS ON LOCAL INGREDIENTS BUT ARE INSPIRED BY JAPANESE TECHNIQUES. HOW COME?

The way to take care of the product from sea to table or from garden to table has so much craftmanship, highly developed techniques and refined esthetics in Japan and that inspires me a lot.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE FOOD SCENE IN GOTHENBURG AT THIS MOMENT? 

Fun, sustainable, creative. 

COMPARED TO STOCKHOLM OR COPENHAGEN?

Fewer guests that go out during weekdays.

BEST CHILDHOOD FOOD MEMORY:

Sun-warm freshly picked strawberries, my grand-mother´s blueberry pancake with freshly picked wild blueberries. 

YOUR GO-TO RESTAURANT:

Trattoria la Strega, a wonderful Italian restaurant in Gothenburg.

WHO IS YOUR MOST SIGNIFICANT CULINARY INFLUENCE:

My grandmother

WHAT DO YOU DRINK AT HOME:

Red wine, sparkling water, coffee and my home-made herbal tea 

MUSIC YOU LISTEN TO WHILE COOKING:

Dreamy rock from the ’70s, soul, hip-hop and reggae

HOW DID YOU START COOKING:

Always loved it! 

ON THE FUTURE:

Very high ambitions

 

Click here for Sofia’s recipe for Sashimi on mackerel with yuz.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Åsa Johansson came to Italy from Sweden in 2001 because she loved Italian films from the ‘50s and ‘60s and wanted to learn Italian. It was love at first sight. Following a degree in political science and journalism at the University of Florence, she now writes about wine, food, and travel for Swedish, Norwegian, Italian and Canadian publications. Åsa travels back to Sweden on a regular basis to hold courses and seminars on Italian wines. Since 2019 she produces her own extra virgin olive oil, La Collina Blu, from the olive trees on the Tuscan hills where she lives with her husband Stefano and two children. Her latest project is Sweden’s first podcast about Italian wine.

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