Take French food, add a Sami chef who exchanges most of the raw ingredients for local produce. Voilà – here you have modern Sami artisan food à la Kristoffer Åström.
Sami chefs are a rarity, not too many of them around, in fact so few that you could count them on one hand. Unfortunately, says Kristoffer Åström, who is of the opinion that there is a need for more. The reason why they are so few is easy to understand after his explanation.
– It is the combination of having been raised on the food, to have a huge interest in food and actually also wanted to be a chef. Put all those demands together and you haven’t got too many to choose from, according to Kristoffer.
Time to experiment
When it was time for Kristoffer to chose his subjects for upper secondary school in Vilhelmina, Kristoffer’s own choice of subjects were a toss up between vehicles, as a mechanic, or becoming a chef. The theoretic alternatives available didn’t sit right with him so he chose the kitchen which, for him, was the right choice.
– The Restaurant path was fun, I soon realised that flavours were something I had a feeling for and this path was easy for me.
In 2008, after several years seasonal work all around Sweden and in Norway, Kristoffer found out about a one-year Sami food education course in Jokkmokk. To apply for the course was an obvious choice as it is almost a must to have attended a year or two at the legendary school at Samernas Utbildningscentrum.
– That year gave me a lot of knowledge and time to experiment. We had access to a Tipi to use as a smoker and I had always a pot on the stove in the kitchen, says Kristoffer.