Mattia Rancati: here’s my life in Sweden (where I’m currently stuck)

The young chef from Varese was sous chef at Fäviken until it closed in January. He’s now staying in Scandinavia, but soon...

15-05-2020
Mattia Rancati at Fäviken, where he arrived ear

Mattia Rancati at Fäviken, where he arrived early in 2018 and stayed as sous chef until the restaurant closed, in January 

I arrived at restaurant Fäviken, near Åre, in Sweden, early in 2018, almost right after my return from New York.

It was a bit of a gamble; but I always tried to match my professional experience with my life outside the workplace, hence places or cultures that could enrich me but also be in line with my personality and curiosity. I started as chef de partie, the first year, and then at the beginning of 2019 I became sous chef with two more guys. All this, until January 2020, when chef Magnus Nilsson closed the restaurant for strictly personal reasons.

It surely was one of the most significant experiences but most of all I am happy to have done this at a time in my career when I needed to learn to give value to every positive and negative aspect in my world. And indeed it was so.

Rancati at the entrance of Fäviken. Magnus Nilsson also appears. The photo was taken a few months ago by Paolo Griffa, friend of Rancati since the days at Piccolo Lago

Rancati at the entrance of FävikenMagnus Nilsson also appears. The photo was taken a few months ago by Paolo Griffa, friend of Rancati since the days at Piccolo Lago

Fäviken was a very special place, which cannot be explained just through what was served in the dishes. 

As a cook, I was very lucky. Firstly, because I could use fantastic raw materials that came from very short supply chains. I’m referring to the constant contact with local farmers (not to mention the fact that we could make use of our garden and of a plot); and to the game that arrived still warm straight from the surroundings.

Rancati at work at Fäviken

Rancati at work at Fäviken

Off to get supplies

Off to get supplies

Secondly, I was incredibly lucky because I could work in a clean, calm environment, with fantastic people and colleagues, surrounded by an extraordinary ecosystem where nature is surely dominating. But most of all I was lucky enough to be every day in close contact with guests who came from all around the world; I was part of their experiences, each unique in its own right, and this gave me a better understanding of the concept of hospitality on a day to day basis.

Swedish culture has surely surprised me. There are commonplaces that proved to be real, but there was also much more to discover. Personally, I like living in such a context, hiking and running in the summer, skiing, hiking and ski touring in the winter... This is why, right after the restaurant closed, I decided to stop a little longer for the winter season, using the time to organise my spaces and enjoy the mountains. I’m still in Sweden. Unfortunately, we’re all here facing this incredible situation and still don’t know how and when we will get out of this.

With Magnus Milsson

With Magnus Milsson

Here Coronavirus arrived a little later, and almost quietly; the situation is very different from what my friends and family are experiencing elsewhere in the world. The country however is “empty”, and tourism is rightly down to zero. 

I consider myself lucky, in any case, as I still have the possibility of going out, if only to light up a fire and cook in the woods, or go on a trip in the mountains. Bars and restaurants are still open, but there are few guests and they’re working on shorter hours; like everyone they have surely been hit, with their proceeds reduced to zero in the most important months of the year.

Almost everyone, however, is taking the situation seriously and taking, as a consequence, the necessary precautions.

Here is where Rancati is now, in Åre

Here is where Rancati is now, in Åre

The long Swedish winter 

The long Swedish winter 

I must admit, that at least here in Åre, far away from big cities, everything seems surreal and it’s not easy to perceive the real situation, what is going on around the world. And of course I will stay here until the situation has improved. I’m waiting to be able to finally return home and embrace my family. But then I hope to leave again to acquire some new experience.

I hope this will happen as soon as possible, and that all my friends and colleagues can get back to work and to their daily life as soon as possible. We must be ready when the time comes to reopen; and, in the meantime, we must work… on ourselves.

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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