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Christian André Pettersen from restaurant Spiseriet in Stavanger, Norway, is the S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 Scandinavia region finalist. The Norwegian sous-chef will showcase his signature dish, entitled East Meets West at the grand final at Expo Milano 2015 in June. He spoke to us ahead of the big event.
Tell us about your signature dish.
Its strength lies in the uniqueness of the main ingredients. Norwegian langoustine and salmon offer a taste of what makes Norwegian food unique, with unsurpassable flavours. My dish combines Nordic ingredients with Asian techniques, inspired by the fjords and Arctic Norwegian waters.
What made you decide to become a chef?
I started working for my father when I was nine years old, washing pots and pans in the back of the kitchen. When I was finished, my father invited me to join him in the kitchen, teaching me the basics. He taught me well, and when I decided to go on to be a professional, he supported me all the way.
Which chef or chefs inspire you daily and why?
Even though he's no longer among us, my father is still my biggest hero. He was a chef like me, and he inspired me to do great things. He taught me that life has no limitations except the ones you create for yourself, and that is something I always keep in my mind. I'm living my dream right now, thanks to those words.
What’s the best dish you’ve ever tasted - where did you eat it, who cooked it?
It would have to be a serving of a self-caught fish my father cooked me while we were out fishing in Lofoten. That smell and taste of fresh fish from cold, northern seas, served with a side of salt-boiled local potatoes and melted butter is hard to top. The setting made it perfect.
What’s the most challenging aspect of S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 for you?
What separates the winners from the runners-up is that last 10 percent you can only prepare for mentally. The unexpected challenges, the touch of finesse in your presentation or the ability to put your soul into a dish. That's my main challenge, tackling the abstracts you can't really prepare for.
What kind of help/guidance would you like from your mentor?
To fine-tune my signature dish as regards taste, texture and its level of uniqueness. Being able to create the perfect Norwegian dish requires skills, but the x-factor comes from good mentoring.
What will you do if you win this competition?
Winning San Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 would probably change my life. Not only would it make me strongerand more motivated, but it would also bring my goal of representing Norway in Bocuse d'Or closer withinreach. It would be another of my dreams come true.