FDL congratulate Frantzén/Lindeberg who have just been announced as the best restaurant in The White Guide, a Swedish restaurant guide, for a second year in a row... Here's why.
“We can only do chickens once a year - last year the fox ate them so we didn't have chickens that year. But I'm not going to stop until I end up with the best clucking chickens in the world".
That’s the philosophy you’re presented with when you meet Björn Frantzén, one half of Frantzén/Lindeberg. A small, 19-seater restaurant located in Stockholm's “Old Town”. Open for three years they have quickly received several awards, two Michelin stars, the best restaraunt in the white guide two years consecutively and a place on the 2011 S. Pellegrino and Acqua Panna “World's Best Restaurant list” with a special mention as “the ones to watch”.
Björn Frantzén and Daniel Lindeberg have experience working for Michelin-starred kitchens around the world and have picked up some fairly unique techniques on the way. As Bjö rn told me: “I think the most important thing when it comes to cooking is to cook the ingredients as close as possible to where they've been taken from - they just taste better that way”. But this is easier said than done – especially when you take it as seriously as these two.
They have spent 10-years compiling a list of trusted producers, farmers, growers and fisherman who share their vision. They breed their own pigs, fed on buttermilk, apples and a nice cup of warm herbal tea in the morning. I was lucky to meet and spend a day with Bjorn and it turned my world upside down. I even met their fisherman who showed me how they kill fish using the Ike Jime method.
“They've done it for 350 years in Japan” Björn says, “it’s just a problem to get the information from Japan, it’s really not that easy. It’s not like you can Google it.
“It takes 17 years to become a sashimi chef, it's not like he's then going to put it all online. We’ve been to Japan and practiced ourselves for a very long time before we got it right.
The fish is killed as soon as it comes out of the water, paralyzed to reduce stress and the blood instantly drained to avoid discoloring the meat and any formation of bacteria.
“It’s about keeping control over the fish and what state it's in - you kill the fish without making it cloudy. You can control the rigamortis and that makes a huge difference to the taste, also the way it tastes. If we do it correctly we can keep the fish for up to 20 day”.
A respect to the ingredient and freshness is prominent in all they talk about but the lengths they’ll go to are often fascinating. For example, in order to serve daily fresh langoustines, Björn and Daniel created a unique way of transporting them from the North Sea direct to the restaurant. The distance isn’t far but to retain freshness the crayfish are packed in small individual compartments made to mimic the natural cavities in which they live during the day, this minimizes stress to the langoustine and keeps the animal in a close to natural environment as possible. The live langoustine is killed just moments before serving, presented to guests and served up raw just minutes later with a touch of Swedish sea salt and lemon. Loosing all the magic if it weren't so fresh.
This term 'just minutes' is not accidental, with the pair employing the 'à la minute' cooking philosophy in their work. “The most extreme example is the bread” Björn says while grinning. “The dough is sitting on the table and when guests have the first course it goes in the kitchen and is cooked on an open fire.”And that’s not the most impressive part, “During that time we've worked out a way to churn butter in two minutes”.
Björn himself says his team makes the restaurant. “Without them, we would be nothing”, adding, “It's hard work to secure produce from soil to table and with this philosophy comes lot of trail and error”.
And he’s right to mention the team – or even the entire network. Because it’s gardeners who live on site all year round. Producers willing to sacrifice their time in search of the perfect ingredient. Fishermen willing to invest in catching fish an entirely new way, and chefs willing to dedicate 10-years to a cause, that make projects like this possible…
Meet Björn, Daniel and their producers in the video below and see why they've now won The White Guide twice.