Five minutes with… Niklas Ekstedt

The Swedish chef, one of the first to design a restaurant using fire as its only cooking source, is about to launch Foodstock, his own food festival

Food and Drink 16 Aug 2019

Foodstock's Niklas Ekstedt

Foodstock's Niklas Ekstedt

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given in your career?

That it’s better to aim for completion rather than perfection.

Who is your role model and how have they influenced you in your work?

My time in Charlie Trotter’s kitchen gave me more than just cooking skills. I learned to see my work as a young chef as a military duty. Learning about structure, logistics and dedication is important.

What ingredient can you not live without and why?

Seasonal vegetables. This time of the year is wonderful for cabbage, beets and salad leaves.

What item, apart from your passport, can you not travel without?

Two items. My cast iron pan, which I do the majority of my cooking in, and my kindling axe, which is essential for building a fire. Needless to say, these tend to be reserved for my journeys by car and rail.

Where is your favourite place to eat in London?

It has to be Brat – I love Tomos [Parry] and his approach to cooking. He’s done an incredible job in making his first opening one of the hottest restaurants in Europe – so much so, I have to make sure to book months in advance if I want to visit.

If you’re fortunate enough to snag a booking, then the whole turbot is a must (‘Brat’ means turbot in colloquial old English). Tomos really has mastered the art of cooking this impressive fish over charcoal.

What do you like to do on a day off?

Being close to nature is something to which I have strong dedication, the lakes in the north of Sweden are an incredible destination.

Apart from food, what are your biggest passions?

Snowboarding – I could happily travel the world doing this.

If you could choose anyone from today or history, who would be your ideal dinner party guest and why?

Sushi master Jiro Ono at Sukiyabashi Jiro from Tokyo would be an honour, as would Victor Arguinzoniz. He is so passionate about his food and unique cooking techniques. I have also always been a fan of Alice Waters, so that would be cool as well.

Foodstock is on Stockholm’s Fjäderholmarna islands on 31 August 2019;