Swedish chef Niclas Yngvesson opened his restaurant Bhoga in Gothenburg with partner and friend Gustav Knutsson. The Scandinavian restaurant was awarded a Michelin star in 2014. We sat down with 42-year-old Yngvesson ahead of his trip to the capital as part of Gourmet Abu Dhabi.
Tell us about yourself…
I worked as a construction engineer until I was 24. I started helping out a friend who ran a restaurant and I realised this was my thing.
I took a cooking course for a year and a half, worked for a year in Sweden then left for six years to work in New York, Australia, Norway, England and Singapore. It was the best way of working and travelling at the same time.
Usually you work from Monday to Friday like normal people, but this was working nights and weekends which was weird but I haven’t regretted a single day.
Do you have a mentor?
Not a mentor as such but I worked with Nils Norén at Restaurant Aquavit in New York. He’s the best chef I’ve ever worked with. He’s amazingly passionate. He yells a lot but he taught me how to make everything the best way possible. For him, it was all about cooking. When you’re younger and you meet someone like that you just think, yeah I want to be like him.
How would you describe your cooking style?
When Gustav and I started Bhoga, it was an international kitchen. But as time passed we went more local and organic. Now we buy everything from around the corner because there are so many small farms here. When you get your hands on local ingredients you don’t want to work with imported products anymore.
Customers are starting to ask questions about where their food comes from and they enjoy it when we say it came from a few miles down the road.
When we create dishes we start with the vegetables then add the protein last. We want to work local and we change our dishes every week. One of our suppliers is a small organic farm that gives 90 per cent of their veggies to us. If they say they’ve got fennel, we put fennel on the menu.
Your restaurant Bhoga received a Michelin star in 2014. How did that feel?
When we opened, we just wanted to have our own place where we could cook our food and have a lot of people. We had a few visits from the people at the Michelin guide and thought if it happens, it happens. Suddenly our name was in the release and it was unreal.
I’ve been eating and working in Michelin restaurants and Bhoga isn’t what I’d expect from a Michelin style restaurant. Of course, food-wise it is, but we are more casual dining. In Scandinavia things are moving in this direction because people want good local, organic food that’s cooked well.
Now we have a lot of international guests. They’ve eaten in a lot of restaurants so it’s nice to hear them compare our casual restaurant to fine dining ones in other cities.
What can we expect from you at Gourmet Abu Dhabi?
We’ll base the menu on the vegetables we can get in Sweden and add different meat or fish from Abu Dhabi.
If you have never tried Scandinavian cuisine before, you’ll find this interesting. Our food is very healthy because we use light ingredients such as vinegar and vegetable-based sauces rather than cream and butter.
Chefs Niclas and Gustav will serving a special menu in Finz, Beach Rotana from 11th-14th February. 12.30pm-3.30pm and 7pm-11.30pm. For more information contact: 02 697 9011 [email protected] www.abudhabifoodfestival.com www.bhoga.se