Embassy Showcasing a Smorgasboard of Sweden

What must be described as an intensified Sweden PR showcase is going on in Singapore, courtesy the Embassy of Sweden, where the focus so far has been on food products and Swedish cuisine. Next up is fashion and design.

Sweden’s Ambassador Ingemar Dolfe is initiating new ways and taking every opportunity to promote Sweden and its business.

“Absolutely, in close relation to supporting Swedish trade and business and promoting export the Embassy should promote a positive image of Sweden, which we are trying to do in various ways. Regarding export we are not just talking about traditional Swedish products such as cars, furniture, but also the new creative sectors – one such being our food, which is part of to the Swedish image,” says Ambassador Dolfe.

“So to give info about Swedish delicacies is a suitable concept here in Singapore – in this country there is a large interest in food. We feel that one is open here to try out other food cultures, and I think we Swedes can be proud over what we have to offer,” he continues.

Thus Singaporeans get enticed with for them unfamiliar food items such as lingon- and cloudberries, gravad lax med hovmästarsås (marinated salmon with a mustard sauce) or räkcocktail (Swedish seafood cocktail).

And they get the chance to occasionally see the ambassador himself in person don the chef hat and whip up the Swedish classic Janssons Frestelse (‘Jansson’s Temptation’, a kind of potato gratin with anchovy).

Cooking himself
The food culture initiative started in May 2011 when local food bloggers and writers were invited to the ambassador’s residence for a Swedish luncheon, also introducing a Swedish star-chef, Jakob Esko, who is normally with Capella Singapore (hotel on Sentosa island).

“Jakob Esko then cooked an especially composed menu with modern Swedish food. We feel satisfied with that attempt and got large attention in media, and reached out very well to Singaporeans via acknowledged food writers and journalists.”

“And during the summer the largest newspaper, Straits Times, visited me in the residence, wanting to know more about this. And I cooked food for them myself, and they got to taste Janssons Frestelse and herring and hard bread – classic Swedish food.”

‘Never have I heard of cloudberries until today! These berries are a local delicacy grown wild in northern Sweden, Norway and Finland,’ wrote one blogger.

Asia-city.com’s writer took note of the Swedish Embassy’s more personal affair and the ambassador’s own introduction of the food.

And most suitably, the Embassy of Sweden, among other embassies have also been approached by the People’s Association in Singapore, which initiates and offers a wide range of programmes and services to cater to the needs and interests of Singaporeans from all walks of life.

A series of events
People’s Association want to offer foreign groups to better inform Singaporeans of their country’s history, heritage and culture, and has therefore started with activities revolving around food.

“They learned that Sweden has done events within this and thought it was interesting to look into a collaboration.”

As a result Sweden’s Embassy could continue the food theme with All About Sweden events, held twice during the autumn in collaboration with the association’s Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians Division, as well as with the Swedish Women’s Educational Association (SWEA).

“The events have a broad approach, but with focus on Swedish food and spreading info on that – with a tree-course dinner based on ingredients one can buy here in Singapore,” says the ambassador who once again, along with his wife, cooked Jansson’s Temptation on stage.

Tourism add-ons
In addition beautiful Swedish sceneries accompanied with music were shown on a big screen providing exciting travel information. Tourist brochures provided via the Swedish Institute were also distributed.

“Our goal is to wake interest for Swedish food and Sweden as a tourist country in order to promote and create a positive image of Sweden. At the same time this contributes to a growing interest for Sweden as a country and its produce and products and thus also benefits our export to Singapore.”

Next: Fashion
Next up was SwedeStyle – an event held in November with trendsetting Swedish fashion and design, including a fashion show by participating brands and a display of Swedish designs, held at the Volvo showroom.
Then the Embassy will summarize what they have accomplished, but we feel there is a strong interest here in Singapore for Sweden and Swedish food culture so there are all the good reasons to continue on this path onwards, ends the Ambassador.

About Joakim Persson

Freelance business and lifestyle photojournalist

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