Norway’s top culinary experts impress Singapore

Eyvind Hellstrøm is responsible for securing the restaurant Bagatelle in Oslo two stars in the prestigious Michelin Guide. This is the only two-star restaurant in Scandinavia. Until recently Terje Ness was working at the restarant Oro in Oslo, a well-known establishment with one star in the Michelin Guide.
     Ness won the Bocuse d’Or competition in 1999. This is a world championship for chefs. Charles Tjessem is the reigning world Champion after winning the Bocuse d’Or last year.
     The three of them used to work together at Bagatelle a long time ago, before they started collecting medals.
     Recently they reunited to create gourmet dishes.

Smorgasbord of temptations
The occasion that brought them together for the first time outside Norway, was the World Gourmet Summit (WGS).This is an annual summit where expert chefs, food critics and food lovers gather to collect recipes, observe demonstrations, taste exotic dishes and get inspired.
     Except a few large gatherings, the Summit consists of many small events. These range from culinary safaris through Singapore, vintner dinners where various types of food is matched to exquisite wines, master classes where master chefs demonstrate how they make some of their dishes, to mention but a few.
     The Summit is a smorgasbord of activities where the participants may choose whatever they think will be in their taste or interest. Top chefs from Italy, Spain, Canada, USA, Belgium and Chile all served up their best culinary creations.
     For the first week of the Summit, the three Norwegian chefs and their tree helpers served a la carte lunch and dinner at Hotel Fullerton.
     This is the old distinguished building buy the river in downtown Singapore. The building used to be a post office.
     In addition, they participated on various other activities every day. Among these were a Master class demonstration, a vintner dinner hosted by an Austrian Winery and the Norwegian Seafood Export Council and a couple of culinary safaris.

Personal bests
The Norwegian chefs surprised and impressed their colleagues in Asia. Even the “codfather” of Norwegian gourmet cooking, Eivind Hellstrøm, was making food alongside his assistants. He was not simply overseeing the work of others to make sure it was up to standards.
     The workload was such, however, that all six of the Norwegians was kept busy in the kitchen – way too busy according to themselves.
     “One night we made 250 dishes from the a la carte menu wich contained 32 items. This is a personal best for every single one of us,” Terje Ness said.
     “It’s been so busy that I haven’t had time to reflect on what we have done, and what we haven’t done,” Charles Tjessem said.
     Neither one wants to make food for as many people ever again. If they are to participate in something similar again, they will insist on a limited menu and limited number of guests every evening.
     Even if they feel that they have not had control all the time, the feedback they have received indicated that they satisfied discriminating taste buds.
     If it wasn’t for good Norwegian helpers, we would still be working on the first evening starters, Ness says.
     But they still has had a really good time in Singapore. They enjoy getting together, and they have a good time when they prepare food together.

The Norwegian Seafood Export Council (NSEC) was one of the sponsors of the World Gourmet Summit. The Council supplied plenty of Norwegian seafood for the participating chefs.
     CEO of NSEC, Svein Berg, was present with a team of helpers, among those the Norwegian TV-personality, Arne Hjeltnes. He is now NSEC’s regional representative for South East Asia.
     Berg told ScandAsia that NSEC is using NOK 900,000 to promote Norwegian seafood during the summit. He is very pleased with the marketing effect.
     “It gives Norwegian seafood an exclusive image to be associated with the Worlds best chefs,” Berg said.
     “This has surpassed our expectations. The food the chefs made has been fantastic. They have done a top job. They have put Norwegian salmon back on the culinary map. We have been able to tell the top chefs in Asia that Norwegian salmon is still exciting,” Hjeltnes says.
     But even for a food lover such as Hjeltnes, the constant bombardments of culinary experiences can become a bit too much. After feasting on the delicious dishes of the Norwegian trio three nights in a row, Hjeltnes opted for an all-together simpler meal.
     He participated in the Norwegian Seaman’s Mission annual beach party.
     “There they served Norwegian shrimps with Norwegian Lofotsmajones (mayonnaise) and loff (white bread). That was also really good,” Hjeltnes says.

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