Considering recent events, not many people can say that living in Libya was one of the best things that could have ever happened to them, but that’s exactly what happened to Swedish chef Bernt Ferb.
Bernt is the head chef and co-owner of the Karon Hillside Hotel, and has lived in Phuket for seven years.
But when he was 13 his parents moved to Tripoli, the Libyan capital. His father worked in construction and was managing the development of a tourist village in the area. Here Bernt spent three happy years attending an international school, where there were more than 50 different nationalities.
Back in the early 1980s, Libya was by and large a safe and prosperous place, and nowhere near as volatile as now. Bernt says: “There were never any problems, no-one was going around killing people.
“After I moved back from Libya, I wanted to travel abroad. I definitely would have stayed in Sweden [for the rest of my life] if I hadn’t been to Libya. I’m much more happy living overseas.”
He spent two years in a Swedish ‘restaurant school’ and went on to run three successful restaurants, including one which was given a Bib Gourmand in the Michelin guide, before moving to Thailand.
He first worked as a chef and manager of the Villa Mangosteen in Khao Lak, and also spent time running the ‘Ferb’ guesthouse in Patong, before taking over the kitchen at the Karon Hillside Hotel about a year ago. He speaks fluent Thai, which helps him considerably in a kitchen with all local staff.
The menu at the hotel is international, including many Swedish specials such as meatballs, and a potato and onion dish. “Sometimes I find it hard to get the ingredients I want, other times a dish isn’t so popular so I’ll replace it.
“Experimenting keeps us awake and continuing to learn new things.”
Some thanks for that open outlook in life must go to the Brother Leader of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.