Chef, cookbook author and father of four Mikkel Karstad reinterprets simple food and local ingredients into meals catering to all senses.
He explained how to appreciate the simple things in life and inspired us to see natural ingredients with different eyes.
KCA: What does food mean to you?
Mikkel: Food means a lot to me – both in relation to my job as a chef and food stylist, but also in my private life, as a family man with a wife and four children. On a busy weekday, we often gather around the table together, to eat and talk about how everyone’s day has gone. It’s also important for me to teach my children about food, to let them know that food is grown according to seasons, and that we eat certain things in summer and other things in winter. I want them to be knowledgeable about cooking and have an awareness of good ingredients. I make sure I use local produce, preparing it properly and with respect so the good ingredients can reveal their true potential and taste.
KCA: How would you describe your approach to food?
Mikkel: Simple and aesthetic. I prefer to let the good ingredients speak for themselves and treat them with respect.
KCA: Have you always been interested in food — how it’s grown, processed and prepared?
Mikkel: I’ve taken a huge interest in food and where it comes from since I was very young. Many of my childhood summer vacations were spent with my grandmother who was a chef and prepared food for caterings and special occasions. She had a large garden where she grew a lot of vegetables that she used to cook. There was never really any menu, she just went out into the garden and picked the vegetables that were ready and best on that day. She prepared them with some of the fish that my uncle had caught in the morning, flounder, eel, shrimps or whatever else they could catch. In autumn, they hunted ducks in the sea or pheasants in the woods and all of this contributed to a great meal. I was a part of all of that, and I’m sure this is where I got my interest in good local produce and well-prepared food from.
KCA: Your food looks so tasty and healthy, it makes us hungry just looking at it what is your recipe for success?
Mikkel: Let the ingredients speak for themselves, prepare them with respect and let them taste how they are supposed to taste. Good ingredients are everything and the base to create a proper meal.
KCA: You have worked in the top restaurants, and now one of your current projects is to turn a retirement home's canteen into a better and healthier place. Which other places would you like to change and provide with a better food experience?
I think the food in many hospitals needs a loving hand so I would like to see if I could help them make better food so people can get well faster and leave hospital sooner. I also think it would be exciting to make a nice cheap, hot meal that could be served at schools. There are many children who are not so fond of packed lunches and many adults who are tired of preparing them every morning. So I think we’d make a lot of people happy by offering this to all the country’s schools.
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