Sustainability – a recipe for victory

National team of chefs get paid for the World Cup of cooking by reducing food waste

Ludwig Tjörnemo and Jerome Calayag examine the result of an experiment with a type of modified Wallenberger.  Promising, but the method may need to be modified slightly.
Ludwig Tjörnemo and Jerome Calayag examine the result of an experiment with a type of modified Wallenberger. Promising, but the method may need to be modified slightly.

They train for months, test preparing dishes as advanced as possible and travel with their kitchen equipment and ingredients to various competitions.

What does climate smart look like?

Maybe not so bad, but for the national team of chefs, sustainability is becoming increasingly important to winning.

– How are we?

– bad!

– laughing loudly!

We are in a large test kitchen in Stockholm, dozens of national team chefs spend one training day a month preparing for tomorrow’s training. The atmosphere is very tense but friendly.

– In the competition we will cook three courses for 110 people but tomorrow for “only” 60. Today we prepare, peel the vegetables and weigh the different ingredients, which is the same procedure as when there is a sharp standoff this fall at the Culinary World Cup (the team is a chef’s toilet) in Luxembourg. Today it may seem very chaotic, but tomorrow the team will be in competition mode, says (first female) team coach, Chef Marie Skogstrom.

Works close to local farmers

In addition to the national team, several gastronomic events, such as courses and tastings, are held in Malmö.

– There we work closely with local farmers and producers – they are in the pipeline. It’s a little easier than here in Stockholm. But we also prefer having local production in the national team, in part because we want to operate sustainably, she says.

Otherwise, competitive cooking doesn’t look directly climate-smart. Before the competition roster is set, the team diligently conducts experiments.

– We start very wide. Do we have fish? What kind of fish? Well, a fat fish – should it be salmon, trout or char? from where? How should it be cooked? What are the accessories? Team Leader Ludwig Tjörnemo (Chef of the Year 2020) says: We’ve been narrowing down more and more, getting into a lot of ideas, and eliminating a lot of ideas until we have a right that everyone on the team is happy with.

“The competition is a little crazy”

Jerome Kalayagh is making his first year in the national team, but he has a routine competition from the San Pellegrino Young coach, which he won last year.

I like to spend time training and competing. You get a large network of talented colleagues and develop as a chef by working with dishes.

  • Won’t there be a lot of food left after a workout?

– No, not really. Mostly the food of the staff. We need to eat during these long days.

  • But isn’t this kind of cooking too excessive?

Sure, the competition is a little crazy. Those on the team are like any great athlete. They do everything to bring out the best possible flavors in dishes at the highest technical level. But at the same time we always try to have a sustainability perspective, says Marie Skogstrom.

At present, as described in the rules.

You can not only use beef steaks but you must take parts from the whole animal. The vegetables we are interested in should be used, for example, in boxes, as well as with the fish hull. If the recipe indicates 10 kg of fish, then 16 kg should not be brought for safety. Judges review recipes and keep track of things like growling. If you cheat on sustainability, there will be a points deduction, she says.

It’s all gone in the slush bucket

A real step towards more sustainability is that the “Cold Kitchen” branch has been completely rebuilt. Previously, it was about preparing very beautiful show food. The goodies were supposed to be edible but no one tasted them – except maybe some picky judge. Instead, all foods were mixed with gel to maintain their luster and presentation for three days. Then it all went into the bucket.

– It was really crazy. Now we will instead prepare a tasting menu for 14 guests. There we can take it to higher technical levels from the three-course menu to 110. Those who eat should be wondering ‘How did they develop that?’. Of course it must be really good, says Marie Skogstrom.

If Marie Skogstrom seems vaguely familiar, it may be because she won the TV competition “Dessertmästarna” in 2013 and also participated in “Kockarnas kamp”.

This is how you cook more sustainably

Climate-smart work is nothing new for members of the National Chefs Team.

We are already operating as sustainably as possible in our restaurants. It saves money and the environment. We hope to inspire other chefs, as well as you in the home kitchen, to work smarter in terms of climate. Team captain Ludwig Tjörnemo says: To cook in season and work with Swedish and organic as much as possible.

His constant advice:

  • Things are not good all year round. That’s why you should eat in season. Why asparagus for the New Year when it is much better in the spring? Fresh potatoes and strawberries are best in summer. hang on to it. It’s easier to cook with good ingredients.
  • Avoid Wasting – Don’t stare blindly at its best before dates and beauty spots.
  • Milk usually stays fresh for more than a week after the best before. Taste before throwing.
  • Tomatoes only get better when they are old and wrinkled. And it doesn’t matter if the cucumber is a little crooked. It gives it more character.
  • And you can even eat strawberries this year if you put them in a summer syrup or freeze them when they’re at their best.
  • Pickle primer and dry mushrooms you have all year round.

Marie Skogstrom:

  • Take on the challenge of not throwing anything in the fridge.
  • Don’t go shopping hungry!
  • Use the freezer. I read that we throw away tens of thousands of tons of bread every year. This is not wise. If you normally need to throw away dry bread, continue to freeze half of the loaf right away. Delicious roasting.
  • I don’t think it’s just an old piece of bread. Someone sowed grain, ground flour, moved it, put it on the store shelf. I bought it and took it home. A lot of work. Eat all the bread!

Jerome Kalayaj:

  • I like to take care of things that people usually throw away. I freeze pieces of onions and other things I take care of and then use for the money.
  • I usually tear off the edges of the cheese and then freeze it. Then you can use the cheese in lasagna or other hot pasta or sandwiches.
  • Then it’s important to plan the menu according to what you’ve kept away from the trash so that it doesn’t stay in the freezer.
  • An easy way to be climate smart is to eat more plants and choose locally grown vegetables that are in season.

The National Chefs Team aims to hold two main competitions

The Culinary World Cup will be decided on 25-30 November in Luxembourg and the Culinary Olympiads from 2-7 February 2024 in Stuttgart. Both competitions are held every four years.

Team members sign a four-year contract. They participate in two days of training each month, in a few smaller competitions and then in the two major tournaments, the World Cup and the Olympic Games.

chase seconds

They are 13 in the team, the third are confectioners (bread and desserts) and the rest are chefs. Then six people will work in the competition kitchen. Others take time and pursue different aspects.

We work hard to make everything more efficient. Even the little things matter. If you can gain ten seconds on each board by adding smarter, it will be 330 times in 10 seconds, roughly an hour. If you can move two meters instead of five in the kitchen, that also matters. But it is important to write everything down right away. At the time of training you have thousands of ideas but then you are completely blank, you can hardly remember anything. If we had time left, we could spend it on making better dishes, says Ludwig Tjörnmo.

So much food in no time

Teams can prepare before the competition, take care of the vegetables, cut the meat and cook the money, but it should not be flavored.

During the competition itself, the team has six hours to cook and three hours to put together and serve dishes for 110 people.

Those who eat are the audience who bought the food tickets – as well as the most important guests, the jury. Contestants don’t know which of the three boards to hit 110 are thrown to the jury. Served at a few tables/parties at a time, just like in a normal restaurant.

The second step is to prepare a tasting menu with several small dishes for 14 guests.

Sustainability gives points

The most important of course is that the dishes are good, but the work in the kitchen and the level of thinking about sustainability are also important to the site.

Sweden is my favorite…

The Swedish team won the 2018 Culinary World Cup, took the silver at the 2020 Culinary Olympiad and is one of the favorites this year. The strongest competitors among the other 44 countries are Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Singapore and the USA.

In parallel, junior national chef teams from all over the world also compete. Sweden ranked last in gold.

… It depends on the show

– The strength of the team is that everyone has experience in competition and at the same time is very humble. We understand that you cannot be an expert on everything and that everyone is open to receiving new information and sharing everything they know. In addition, we are of different ages and work in different types of restaurants. For example, I have never worked in a place with more than 35 places, and now we are going to cook 110 three-course meals. Ludwig Tjörnemo says there are others who are used to these volumes.

Wednesday every week. But not just any Wednesday. The Ho Matsmarta on Wednesday! With great knowledge, tips and recipes, Aftonbladet wants to inspire you and the entire Swedish people to eat more climate-smart food. And you have to start somewhere – why not one day a week?

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