I´m back home in Sweden and looking back to the eight months which so far is the journey of my life. What I experienced is something that few people get the chance to participate in. Something I´m very thankful and greatful for, specially because I´m the first and so far only swedish chef participating in this program. A journey filled with emotions, knowledge, development and experiences for my future carrier. I realize it´s impossible to evaluate the value of my journey – but I can give you a resume of the story of my life.
Our first stay in Salamanca was like a honeymoon and everyone seemed to be more interested in going out than taking the spanish classes, cultural visits and gastronomical parts serious. I came with one attitude – to learn as much as possible about the gastronomy and the language and that´s what I did. All the events and visits were fantastic and specially I remember dinners at Cándido, visit to Toledo, produce companies of charcuteries and all the cultural parts of the region.
After the first honeymoon followed a three week trip unbelievable amazing. A trip around the country from region to region and town to town. From Galicia with all the seafood and crispy wines to Asturian cuisine. To San Sebastián and three star dinner through all the vegtebles in Navarra to top class wines in La Rioja. Down south to Seville, Jerez and Málaga before ending up in Barcelona and Madrid. To retell everything from this part will take a week so I pick my biggest impressions. Jerez with all the produce from the sherry wines, amazing dinners in San Sebastián, Galicia and Asturias. The marketplaces in Santiago and Barcelona and cooking classes across the country. And last but not least an amazing dinner in the countryside in Catalonia.
But there is one specific, or two specific persons that always will be the main part behind my experience. José Polo and Toño Perez didn´t just show me the best side of their amazing hotel and restaurant Atrio. They took care of me like no other did before and really showed me Spain.
I remember our winetastings from their awarded top class wine cellar and all our dinners had in the restaurant. They organized visits to wineries and cheese factories in the region of Extremadura. Took me to Madrid for dinners, cultural visits and excursions and events. Toño invited me to join for Madrid Fusión México which was an happening it self. Without them I shouldn´t see that much as I did.
After followed a month in Madrid where I got the chance to explore the capital. The range of activities never stops and I think I´ll come back to see everything I missed. Glad then I saw the important ones like “Museo del Prado”, “Reina Sofía”, the Royal Palace and much more.
To pick out one unique part I liked the most I have to say it was my last month in La Rioja. As the winegeek I am I really took the opportunity to study the wines in the region. Amazing visits at some of the world leading producers of high quality wines today. This is definitely a place to come back to one day.
My biggest impressions of the Spanish gastronomy is the tradition and pride of the produce – Charcuterie, Cheese, Olive oil, Wines, etc. The importance of the regional cuisine and the way produce is used. I´m inspired by many of the avantgarde cuisine chefs and their restaurants. I love many of the wines and enjoy the culture and art. I´ve learned much more than I expected before the program started, I got a bunch of new friends and connections with people from here and there. I learned a new language and I got a memory for life!
Thanks to all of you who made my journey possible – the organization, the people, the chefs, the produce companies and everybody else. I´m moving on in my career and hope I´ll see you all again one day – I´ll always save a piece of my heart and belly for Spain.
From Sweden with love