Young chefs and long standing friends, Anton Bjuhr and Jacob Holmström have been opening the doors of their Michelin star Gastrologik restaurant for five years running. Within, the Scandinavian interior is beguiling, creating a calm and tasteful atmosphere where Swedish cuisine is celebrated in all its possible artistry. The “menu” here is forever in a state of flex every 24hrs, fully dependant upon whatever nature decides to offer that day. To explain, this ambitious and creative duo sits down over coffee to talk gastronomy, Stockholm life, and their respect of the forest’s produce.
GQ: Anton, Jacob, what led you into this profession?
Anton: I had no interest at all actually. It was never meant-to-be. But during high school, I worked as a dishwasher in a kitchen so that’s how I got into it originally. My grandmother used to run a cantina up north and looking back, I can appreciate memories of Christmas when she was cooking classic Swedish cuisine. Now, there’s no turning back.
Jacob: I come from a family of restaurateurs… through that sounds pretentious. My grandpa was a butcher and my father opened up a restaurant the same spring I was born. So I ended up growing up in that restaurant. For me, I had no choice; he gave me a chef’s jacket when I was eight years old! A kitchen has always been a safe point, like being at home. The slamming, the heat, the chefs… I love the atmosphere.
GQ: Do you have a daily ingredient needed to stay creative?
Jacob: Coffee! For me, you need a good atmosphere in the kitchen. We’ve both worked in places before where that wasn’t true. So when we started this restaurant, we wanted a space with a creative atmosphere.
Anton: We need to feel at home here. When you get to work, you need to have a particular mind set. You have your ups and downs of course, but when you enter through that door, you’re a professional and you leave everything behind. The point is to feed each other with creativity. In the end, it’s open communication, whether it’s about food, design, or a way of serving.
GQ: Is there any difference in the way you treat food at home and at Gastrologik?
Anton: You cook differently; I don’t eat like this at home. But the restaurant reflects the way we live; we believe in what we’re doing. It’s not because it’s hip for the moment or in this Nordic food era. We work with Swedish produce, and we’re organic and environmentally friendly because that’s what we do at home.
Jacob: Yeah, you cook differently, but with the same heart. I mean I don’t go home and make suckling pig; it’s more rustic. Here we put tight limits on what we do. We ONLY use Swedish ingredients for example. So it’s nice to go home and make a Caesar salad. But, maybe I’ll add some zest of lemon? - It’s luxury!
GQ: How does the Swedish landscape influence creativity?
Jacob: One of the first things we did was buy a company car so that we can get out of the restaurant now and then. We’ve established a good network with different producers and also a nearby garden. That’s where we get loaded up with energy and inspiration. Then every Monday, we go north through the forest to get our dairy products. We’ve probably created a hundred dishes in that forest! Especially in the winter when you don’t have much fresh ingredients, you can find lichen and spruce needles in the forest. Maybe some bark that you can smoke the fish you caught on your way home. Or some piece of wood that works as a plate.
GQ: Why choose Stockholm as a home base to open Gastrologik?
Jacob: If you want to do something that’s a bit unusual, it’s easier to do it in Stockholm than in the rest of Sweden.
Anton: Stockholm is not a big city but it’s the biggest city. Meaning people are more open to trying new things. But you’re in the countryside in thirty minutes, so you’re connected to the produce we need.
GQ: What’s the reaction of your Swedish customers to your food?
Jacob: I think it’s easier to affect tourists coming here. But since we’re using Swedish ingredients, Swedish people find connections with our menu. A lot of people go “oh, my grandmother used to make this but in a different shape and different way!”
GQ: What does it mean to be a Stockholmer?
Anton: That’s who WE are! Everyone moves here from outside. To me, that’s a Stockholmer; someone who comes here to live and work, and fulfil their dreams.