On a Lifelong Journey to Mastering Food
A chat about studies and life with Sofia from Sweden, a Culinary Arts Academy Student
Hi Sofia! When did you discover your interest in culinary arts?
Cooking has been one of my hobbies ever since I was a little kid. I often baked cupcakes, cakes, and confectionery with my grandmother. As I grew older, I became more and more interested in cooking, which still fascinates me.
After so many years, how is it still fueling your curiosity?
Every person’s life revolves heavily around preparing and consuming food. Just imagine the wealth of experience and wisdom accumulated over the centuries from which we can draw! A person could spend their entire life learning about food and cooking and still have so much more to discover.
That’s so true! Where are you currently interning?
I am interning at a high-end diner Brasserie Astoria in Stockholm, Sweden. It is a part of the Frantzén group, a collection of six restaurants, two of which have three Michelin stars. Exchange and inspiration take place between the restaurants.
Does the Culinary Arts Academy help their students find internships?
Yes. We have assigned career coaches who guide us through job-related questions. Also, the school organizes an annual recruitment event called International Recruitment Forum, where students and hotel and restaurant representatives have a chance to network. It’s a great way to get inspired and meet potential future employers. However, I knew exactly where I wanted to intern.
Why do you think the school places that much importance on internships?
Culinary schools equip you with the right toolset and open doors for your first work experiences. However, a chef is something you become through practical experience – you mostly learn by doing. Culinary internships allow you to understand how everything’s done in a real-life setting and are a great way to launch a professional cooking career.
How does interning at the Brasserie Astoria in Stockholm align with your professional goals for the future?
My main goal today is to learn about different food cultures as much as possible, and I’m thrilled with my internship choice. Our menu consists of classic dishes, often remixed by adding ingredients from different countries’ food cultures, like a Japanese element to a Swedish dish. That’s very motivating, as it makes me want to experiment with new flavor combinations in the kitchen.
What skills have you gained at school prepared you for this internship?
I learned the value of keeping a clean and well-organized kitchen and the significance of following proper sanitation and hygiene procedures for preparing and serving food. Culinary Arts Academy has provided me with a foundation upon which I can build more advanced skills such as time management, task delegation, and teamwork during my internship.
Expertise in knife use, familiarity with various cooking techniques, and the fastest, most effective method for peeling a carrot are all necessary, allowing me to be effective in the kitchen.
What are the perks of doing an internship at Brasserie Astoria?
Brasserie Astoria is housed in a former theatre, so being in such a location daily is pretty special! But the best perks are to work with such talented and wonderful people. Brasserie Astoria employs many people, so there’s a daily exchange of stories, knowledge, and experience which I value highly because networking and establishing connections are essential in the world of food.
What fun things can you do in Stockholm during your free time?
During the summer, Stockholm is an idyll! Being outside in pleasant weather and chowing down on ice cream while taking in the city is one of my favorite things to do
Stockholm is built on islands, so nature is all around you. A fun activity in the archipelago is riding a ferry boat. Also, there are a lot of bars and events to visit. This weekend I went to a pop-up jazz concert in a city park and met with some friends at a boule bar afterward.
What is the most significant benefit of attending a Culinary Arts Academy?
Attending the Culinary Arts Academy in Switzerland offers the chance to develop lifelong friendships with individuals from all over the world while taking in the tranquility and beauty of Swiss nature. Studying here has been a thrilling adventure.
What kind of impact would you hope to make in your field in the future?
Wow, what a hard question! I believe in joy and happiness. Making people happy with food is a dream that, little by little, every day comes true. To be able to keep doing that in the future with my own restaurant and concept is an aspiration that I confidently believe can be true.
What are the current trends in the culinary field? Where do you see the industry going?
I sense restaurants are becoming more willing to branch out beyond traditional cuisine and try something new. Now more than ever, it’s OK to combine different culinary traditions. So I think this trend is here to stay, expand and develop.
Wow, sounds interesting! Could you share an example of that?
Sure! One dish at Brasserie Astoria called Toast Astoria combines Swedish and Japanese flavors. Basically, it’s a Swedish classic called Toast Skagen created by the Swedish restaurateur Tore Vretman. It consists of shrimps, mayonnaise, and dill. Astoria’s version is made with wasabi in the mayonnaise, a spice native to Japan. We also serve it with trout roe washed in sake, the Japanese rice wine.
Thank you, Sofia, for a flavorsome conversation! Best of luck to you!
Check the programme that Sofia is attending: