Manager of the Norwegian Chefs Team: We must pass on the stories behind the produce

Jørn Lie is chewing. He has been in a meeting for several hours, he says. He has just walked through the Nordic restaurant Vaaghals, located in one of Oslo’s most modern areas Bjørvika, and grabbed a bite on his way.

The Norwegian chef – who on a daily basis works as the CEO of the traditional restaurant Gamle Raadhus, in addition to Vaaghals – is a man that likes to keep himself busy.

As such, from March 2017 he also accepted the job as manager of the Norwegian Chef’s Team.

– I wasn’t really sure what to say when I was offered the job. I was asked during the Christmas rush. It isn’t necessarily a question that you want to have to answer when you already are pressured with time.

– At the same time, it is incredibly exciting. It is a great honor to be regarded as the right man for the job.

Chef by accident

The acclaimed chef has worked in the line for years. But he stumbled into the job.

– It was rather by accident. I was never happy to go to school. But something changed when I started at the Cooking School. It really excited me. I was schooled at Grand in Oslo, and soon thereafter some of the guys who worked there traveled to the States to open the Norwegian Pavilion in the Epcot Center (A theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Bay Lake, Florida). I was asked if I wanted a job there and traveled soon thereafter. It was incredibly exciting.

Passion for Norwegian food

Lie traveled back to Norway after working a few years in Orlando. Here, he continued his travel in the old car of his mother-in-law – a Lada. Playing the music of the Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg on full volume he made his way through the spectacular landscapes of Valdresflye, before finally reaching the tiny municipality Lom. In Lom, Lie made food for the visitors at the historic hotel Fossheim, joining forces with highly acclaimed chefs such as Arne Brimi.

Much later he got a job in France, before travelling back to Norway to work as head chef at the Michelin restaurant Feinschmecker.

Throughout the years he has also been on countless trips with the Norwegian Chef’s Team. Lie says he loves the flexibility that comes with the job.

– The ground principles are the same wherever you go in the world, he says.

Still he falls back to Norwegian cuisine when he cooks.

– Why are Norwegian traditions so important to you?

– I like the closeness. We are perhaps the best country in the world when it comes to fish and shellfish, and we export it to all the corners of the world. When the ingredients are so easily accessible you don’t need to look anywhere else, Lie says.

Everything has a story

Nordic food is also trending in previously unthinkable places. In New York, the Danish chef Claus Meyer is running a restaurant specializing in grøt – the Nordic equivalent of porridge.

Lie is happy that Nordic cuisine and especially Norwegian food is growing in popularity, but says restaurateurs can get even better at passing on the stories behind the food.

I think it is important to remember that all Norwegian food has an exciting story. People don’t go to restaurants only to eat anymore. They want something different, and the stories behind the food can be that little something extra, Lie says.

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