Gastronomic cooking at Sörbyn

A nervously excited group is greeted in the lobby at Sörby Lodge. We’re about to cook. Not just any kind of food either, real gastronomic gems. We will be doing it ourselves, coached by the restaurant’s chef, Magnus Fägerman.

Gastronomic cooking is one of many appreciated activities at Sörbyn Lodge. The experience really begins on the way here, along winding roads through the Swedish Lapland forests, leading to the beautiful Råne River valley.

Gastronomic cooking is an excellent activity for a group of work colleagues, friends or families. It’s an activity tailored for up to six people, which is probably a suitable number of amiable amateurs shuffling around in a professional kitchen. The level of difficulty is adjusted to suit the group and the menu follows the chef’s suggestions and what the season has to offer.

Chopping mushrooms

“In autumn and winter I tend to choose wild game, in summer I choose seasonal produce”, says chef Magnus Fägerman, a young and enthusiastic, yet humble chef, who opens his pantry and shares his knowledge with us.

Regardless of our level of gastronomic interest or knowledge, he manages to engage us all in the joy of cooking and the will to get something done. He presents our three course dinner using descriptions that might sound a tad advanced to a happy amateur, definitely nothing that yours truly would try at home.

However, he convincingly proclaims “it’s really easy”, boosting our confidence and curiosity. Anyone can make a mushroom sauce, right…?

Caramelizing onions

We split the recipes between us and suddenly something inside us awakens. Total focus and deep concentration ensues, onions are to be chopped, lemons to be grated, the right ingredients and utensils must be found. Finding your way in a restaurant kitchen is an art form in itself. Our chef Magnus remains calm and has friendly, informative answers to all of our questions, an admirable quality. He skillfully juggles between giving us all hands-on advice, “turn that up, turn that down”, and showing us the correct utensils and temperatures.

“Mmm, you’ve done well, I really like both the texture and the flavour”, he says encouragingly and one can’t help but feel a little proud.

“I think I’m done now” someone says cautiously.

Suddenly, it feels like the friend next to you is your competitor in a chef’s duel, ringing her bell. “What? Is she done already?! Help!”

However, after a while, we all relax, we chit-chat and laugh about scaly wood mushrooms, cloudberries, arctic char and reindeer topside. It’s no junk food that we’ve been entrusted to prepare.

The main course, made by yours truly

“Reindeer meat is wonderful to work with. There is probably no other meat that I like better”, says Magnus Fägerman, whilst he shows us how best to trim a reindeer fillet, showing us his favourite tool in the kitchen, second only to the stove, a digital kitchen thermometer. He demonstrates how to insert it into the meat, and teaches us how to cook the meat to ensure the best possible results.

“The meat should be dry, not refrigerator-cold. Trim it well, use a really hot frying pan with plenty of butter and a little oil. Baste the meat if you have time whilst browning it quickly, then put in the oven at about 130 degrees until it reaches 43 degrees in the middle. Then just take it out and let it stand.”

Yes, he’s probably right, it sounds really simple. All of a sudden, we’re all master chefs.

Yes, he’s probably right, it sounds really simple. All of a sudden, we’re all master chefs. We also get to learn a handy trick to stop pie crust from sliding down whilst baking, what a chinois and crème double is. We get to exercise our patience until we have a well boiled-down sauce, to learn the art of making handmade double breaded croquettes, to mix a puree of glazed onions that have simmered for a long time, and other exciting things which we probably won’t repeat at home, but they were all great fun to try. We now know that sherry vinegar adds a good piquancy to sauces, that fresh herbs can be frozen and that it’s no catastrophe if your mayonnaise separates, you can just start over. We didn’t have to though; our homemade lemon mayonnaise was an instant hit. Wow!

Dessert with cloudberries

Time flies in the kitchen. It is almost like an active form of mindfulness, you really can’t think about any of your everyday worries when you have a recipe to follow, cream to boil and potato balls to deep fry. Once we take our aprons off, with rosy cheeks, feeling proud and a bit peckish despite all our tasting, a sense of satisfied anticipation spreads throughout the group. We’ve done so much and it’s going to taste so good.

Magnus adds the final touch after we have left his kitchen, he then comes out and serves us course after course. No doubt, the tasting is imbued with an additional dimension knowing that we have cooked these delicacies ourselves. “How did you make that one?” “Oh, it looks lovely!” “Don’t touch, I have to take a picture first!” “I need to remember this recipe!”

Learn more
Sörbyn Lodge is a delightful guest house and conference facility, with a great kitchen. It’s located in the peaceful countryside, about an hours’ drive from Luleå or Boden. If you’d like to learn to cook like a pro – with a pro – contact sorbyn.se.

Not many groups could go through an activity like this without hearty conversation and cooperation. The experience is nicely rounded off with a good wine by the fireside before retiring to your hotel room for the night.

You will awake well-rested, well fed, with a real boost to both energy and confidence.

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