Interview: Magnus Haugland Paaske, 360°Young Chef nominee
What’s your story? When did you start out as a chef?
I’ve always liked food and cooking, but my interest in cooking as a job started in my early teens. I watched too many hours of cooking shows, bought all the cookbooks I could get my hands on, and became obsessed with the thought of being a chef.
I had a few different summer jobs during this time and quickly found out that being a cook is far from what you see on TV, but I fell in love with the atmosphere and banter of the kitchen and the feeling of being a part of a team working for one goal every day, serving our guests.
During my two years of apprenticeship, I was lucky to work under great chefs, Bocuse d’Or bronze winner Gunnar Hvarnes, current Bocuse d’Or candidate Christian Andre Pettersen, and Andreas Myhrvold. I learned a lot, and they showed me what it means to be professional, as well as giving me something to reach for.
After my apprenticeship, I staged at the two-starred Dinner by Heston Blumenthal in London, worked at the one-starred Ylajali in Oslo, and competed in various cooking competitions with Christian Andre Pettersen from 2013 to 2015, culminating with a second place in Bocuse d’Or Norway in 2015. All of these experiences helped me to become the cook I am today.
I worked a few years in a couple of good restaurants in my hometown of Stavanger, until January of 2018. When I, together with two chef friends, opened Restaurant Söl with a mission to make “fine dining” affordable.
What’s your role at Restaurant Søl today?
I am currently the head chef of Restaurant Söl in Stavanger. I am also a co-owner with my two partners, Nayana Engh and Claes Helbak.
My main role in the business is to run the daily operation of the kitchen, as well as menu planning and development. We are a small team of two cooks, as well as my two co-owners being in charge of the service.
Tell us about your focus and mission as a chef.
I aim to make simple and delicious food, sourced from sustainable and local producers. My goal is to make it as approachable and affordable as possible and hopefully inspire as many people as I can to do the same. In the future, I would like to move my focus to serve the community and the people who might not get a chance to eat at fancy restaurants. It is important that good, healthy, and sustainable food isn’t only available to those with wealth and privilege, and I believe that chefs have a responsibility to be a part of this movement.
Tell us, when it comes to sustainable considerations, how you want to work as a chef.
For me, it is important to make sustainable choices at all levels of the food chain. Not only by using local and sustainable producers but also by preparing the produce in a way that is respectful, like regarding waste.
My main focus is to move towards a vegetarian diet, as I see this as the only way to make a meaningful impact on the climate. I think it will be very difficult to change our customers’ habits completely, but I want to work harder to inspire people that it is possible to eat delicious vegetarian food.