Swedish-born chef Fredrik Berselius has the two-Michelin-starred restaurant aska, in Brooklyn, New York – which has a reputation for being one of the most cutting-edge restaurants in the United States. The cuisine is inspired by the heritage and tradition of Fredrik’s native Sweden, his land in upstate New York, and a deep appreciation for the restaurant’s home in Brooklyn.
What inspired you to become a chef?
As a teenager I would often visit my sister Michaela who was living in London at the time studying hospitality and working in hotels. She had many chef friends, including her boyfriend, and I would hear their fascinating stories about the restaurant world, working with legends such as Alain Ducasse and Pierre Koffmann, and everybody seemed so passionate about it. I then had my first experience of working in a professional kitchen in London and a seed was planted that sparked a curiosity in me to explore the field further, which I eventually did after moving to New York.
What has been a standout moment in your career so far?
When I look back at my time working as a chef, it sometimes feels like the blink of an eye, but it has been a long and eventful journey so far. Being awarded two Michelin stars shortly after opening aska in its new location was a pivotal moment for me for many reasons, not least because of the journey it took to get here. And now, releasing the aska cookbook feels like the next really big milestone.
Do you have any food memories that have influenced your cooking style?
As a kid, I remember spending time in the forest with my grandfather learning about all the wild plants around us. Picking herbs, berries and mushrooms, and simple things such as experiencing the scent of a pine forest after rain have all inspired my cooking more than food alone.
What made you want to write the cookbook?
To be able to tell the story of what we do at aska and how it came to be, share our inspirations, and hopefully inspire others in some way. There is only so much time we have with the guests who come to our restaurant and the cookbook is an extension of that experience and the stories we are trying to tell with our food.
Which chef would you love to sit down and have a chat with? I would love to chat with Anne-Sophie Pic [France’s three-Michelin star chef].
Starter or dessert?
I would have to say starter. Or a dessert on the more savoury side.
You don’t need to travel to Brooklyn, New York to get a taste of aska. Whip up these recipes at home from Fredrik’s debut cookbook.
Photography by Charlie Bennett