Interview: Hanna Stenstrand, 360°Young Chef nominee
What’s your story? When did you start as a chef?
I started working as a full-time chef four years ago, right after I graduated from the Stockholm International Restaurant School. Before that, I worked extra on weekends and holidays in Stockholm. At the end of high school, I had an internship at Restaurant Hantverket in Stockholm, where I stayed for three years. It suited me very well. The whole atmosphere and cooking were very wonderful and educational. After a while, I started to want to learn new things. In the summer of 2019, two friends and I got to cook at a restaurant in the archipelago where I grew up. We ran the kitchen ourselves and cooked everything from scratch. By that fall, I was offered to work at Aira, which was great fun and a little scary considering that I have not worked in fine dining before. I have been there since the beginning and have learned a lot, not just about taste combinations but also about sustainability in restaurant kitchens.
What’s your role at the restaurant Aira today?
Now, I work with cold dishes in the kitchen at Aira, which means everything is served cold, including canapés, and I also support the dessert team during service. It is challenging and fun to learn the small details that become so important for the result.
Tell us about your focus and your mission as a chef.
Right now, I’m trying to work as hard as I can to learn as much as possible from others in the industry. I have to work with locally grown ingredients, and I also think about waste all the time. In the future, I want to run my own restaurant with a focus on locally grown, preferably where I grew up in the archipelago.
Tell us, when it comes to sustainable considerations, how you want to work as a chef.
Sustainability, both in terms of the work environment and climate, is super important. I want to work with whole ingredients and use every part of both vegetables and animals as much as possible. I think it also affects how guests look at the food and then, in the long run, maybe even how people start cooking at home. The work environment is also super important. You have to be able to stay in one place but also be able to stay in the industry. We, who work as chefs, now have a great responsibility to show students from schools and new, young people how to work sufficiently and teach pedagogically to feel safe and excited to start working as chefs.