Being a food critic is not a role for the faint hearted but contrarily for the adventurous and strong willed. Add to that being one in Sweden, where Nordic style cooking is growing world renown, home to chefs who are foraging and re-inventing the region’s hearty, age old cuisine. It’s also unique. Where for many, Italian and French cooking play to the crowd and are decidedly on the beat, Nordic cuisine is not only playing on the off beat, it’s outside the back stage door leaning over a bonfire and performing utterly for its own amusement.
What kind of a person can take on the role of being a Swedish food critic? We set out to find out and asked one; one of the few females in the profession at that. We found out how her path lead her to taking on such a literally critical role. She was also kind enough to share some of her favourite local spots here in Malmö – the hottest spots that will send you to ‘Tastebud Tivoli’.
Introducing Anna Berghe, Swedish food critic with a readership of over 1.5 million.
In order to become a food critic one has to be first a food lover. One in the same, Anna’s intro into the world of food has been as natural an evolution as the produce she can remember plucking out of the earth on her family’s farm in southern Sweden- Skåne’s Åkarp. “When I was three or four years old, I remember milking a cow for the first time and then drinking the milk. I remember how fat and warm it was, and even though you wanted to drink more, your tummy was full.”
Anna’s summers were filled annually with holidays spent in the kitchen and on the farm of her grandparents, her grandmother herself a formidable cook from a young age. “When she was 14 she prepared and served an entire deer to a large table of grown men. My grandmother was the one who taught me how to make the basics- sausages, sauces and pies.”
Like many of us at that age, Anna had plans that didn’t include following her passions in order to ‘make a living’. She studied teaching and upon receiving her degree, taught high school, like her mother, who was a teacher for 40 years. And, like her father, she quit doing what she trained for after but one year to pursue the thing she loved: devoting herself to working with food and sharing it with others.
Today Ms. Berghe enjoys a full and varied schedule that orbits all things edible. She is at once a recipe maker and tester- creating recipes for books, schools and events. Anna is also responsible for co-/founding and organising unique pop up events where the locale compliments the menu (Mad I Malmö and Tillbords).
And of course, she also writes for one of Sweden’s largest circulating newspapers, Metro, as one of their three dedicated food critics.
New Heroes & Pioneers (NHP): In order to be a food critic you have to love food and have the ability to write knowledgeably about it. What else which is unique to you do you bring (pun alert) to the table?
Anna: I always try to bring something positive to every place I eat at, even though there can be flaws in the concept. For me, honesty, mixed with a humble attitude, is very important when I write. Another unique thing is that I´m not undercover as the majority of food critics are. That is something I need to think about all the time.
NHP: Right next door, Copenhagen is home to Noma (http://noma.dk/), voted best restaurant in the world for the past four out of six years. What does Malmö, and the surrounding region, have that sets it apart from from the rest of the culinary world, making it a worthy destination for food lovers?
Anna: Malmö and Skåne as a region offer a wide pantry of fantastic ingredients from the sea, forest and city, in combination with GREAT chefs that use this pantry in their cooking. The list includes Daniel Berlin (http://danielberlin.se/en/), Titti Qvarnström (http://bloominthepark.se/), Jörgen Lloyd, Mats Vollmer (http://vollmers.nu/en/), Andreas Dahlberg, Martin Sjöstrand to mention some of the best. They are responsible for putting Malmö and Skåne on the global food scene. Simplicity, heart and soul, combined with lovely products and environment are what make this region a winner.
NHP: What is most important to you when you critique a dish or restaurant?
Anna: Honesty. Even though it´s hard for some people to hear the truth.
NHP: What separates you and your reviews from those of your colleagues? Do you have different areas of expertise?
Anna: I cook as well. That can sometimes be an advantage for me in some situations. I focus mainly on the food in my reviews. I sadly often see critics who focus more on the environment and the guests instead of the food and beverages.
NHP: Thank you for not just for your time Anna, but also for keeping us tuned into the independent spots which make excellent food at decent prices- those places that put their money into talent and good produce over marketing budgets.
Follow and connect with Anna yourself on the platforms below. You also have the chance to attend the ongoing events Tillbords has on offer in the region!
Anna’s Instagram: @mat_och_dryck_med_berghe
Tillbords Instagram: @tillbords
Metro home page: http://www.metro.se/noje/krog/
Just a few of Anna’s favorite local spots around Malmö
- Talldungens Gårdshotell (Brösarp) for it´s lovely wine cellar, food and ambiance. http://www.talldungen.se/
- Holy Smoke BBQ (Nyhamnsläge) for GREAT brisket and other nice smoked dishes in a cool environment. http://www.holysmokebbq.se/en/
- Hörte Brygga (Hörte) Lovely lunches next to the seaside with lovely humble owners to greet you. http://hortebrygga.se/
- Bastard (Malmö) A favorite for many- inventive dishes, pizza and lovely cocktails.
- Daniel Berlin (Skåne Tranås) A wonder-lovely dinner experience that I would love to share with everyone