When 1983 born Magnus Nilsson inaugurates new aspiring chefs or even waiters to his exclusively tiny 12-seat restaurant Fäviken Magasinet in the very northern woods of Sweden, he starts off with letting them kill a duck by snapping its the neck. Nature and all its myriad of meanings, causes and effects means everything to his controlled but certainly not contrived cuisine. The artisanal ways of understanding the produce must be felt and understood by all to the full extent, otherwise there are plenty of other restaurants to choose from.
His approach to exceptional products and hand-felt techniques is something that could be dubbed “neo-traditional”; a search for authenticity in taste. No machines in the kitchen, no thermometers, no additives apart from salt and herbs, and heat only from pans, pots and the specially milled charcoal of a Josper grill. Perfecting the feeling for when the produce is at its prime takes time and effort, something super energetic Magnus has plenty of. Almost everything served by his hands are picked, reared, killed or in other ways sourced at the 10 000 ha estate comprising mountains, lakes and vast woods. Magnus Nilsson’s attitude to produce and cooking is definitely very unique for Sweden; his taste is refined, clear, light and delicate; no heavy hands anywhere. His revival of, and, even more importantly; development and refinement of local century-old ways of storing perfect fresh vegetables throughout the minus 30°C winters, and also grounding, pickling and fermenting berries, dairy products and a vast array of game is not for archeological reasons.
Delicacy, perfection and understanding the produce is all that matters to Magnus. Rural and sometimes ancient; yes, rustic and folkloristic; not. Perhaps there is a sub-concious Japanese streak in his absolute minimalist cooking, maybe deriving from intense but curiously playful studies of nature since childhood. He supports and waits for the produce, gives it space and time - not the other way around. The prodigal and sensitive Magnus was destined for marine biology at an early age, but by his own will choose the path of gastronomy instead, and later even became a fully fledged sommelier with a penchant for delicate natural wines.
Almost three years next to Pascal Barbot formed the first period of his professional culinary training, starting by kicking his way in as a new-to-Paris-20-year-old-just-out-of-chef-academy-in-Åre-Sweden. Magnus started his multi-facetted Fäviken in a very small scale three years ago, by putting seeds in the ground at his now vast and micromanaged vegetable land. His relationship with small local high-end food artisans is in constant development; but on a very small scale, there is no need for quantity, only perfection, if you feed merely 12 people per night. Hunting, fishing, foraging and cooking is his everyday life since childhood, but culturally since generations. Only now refinement and thoughtfulness are at the foreground, not survival.
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From the top left corner, clockwise: Juan Camilo Quintero Merchan, Michele Lazzarini, Gianmarco Ferrandi, Giacomo Devoto and Dario Pandolfo
Michele Lazzarini from restaurant St.Hubertus in San Cassiano in Badia (Bolzano), best sous-chef for the 2021 Guida ai Ristoranti di Identità Golose
Mattia Rancati at Fäviken, where he arrived early in 2018 and stayed as sous chef until the restaurant closed, in January