Marcus Jernmark

marcus jernmark aquavit

Marcus Jernmark is the executive chef at New York’s Scandinavian culinary landmark – Aquavit. Ever since the baton has been passed to him by Marcus Samuelsson, the 29-year-old chef has dedicated himself to giving customers the experience of true Scandinavian cuisine. The chef, no doubt, has held up his end of the transition; Aquavit was recently given a two-star review from the New York Times under Jernmark’s watch. The Chef was also recently named one of Zagat’s top 30 under 30 in March 2011. This was no surprise to us, especially upon receiving Jernmark’s responses. If there ever was authenticity, innovation and drive in an executive chef, that chef would be Marcus Jernmark. Jernmark on everything from Scandinavian recipes to where he goes to eat in Stockholm, Sweden…

Describe your ideal food day…

I will describe my typical Sunday, my only day off, which is most representative of my ideal food day. I start with a home-brewed cup of coffee, and no breakfast, I know it’s bad! I like to keep my stomach empty for the day of eating ahead. I try and eat out both lunch and dinner to see what’s going on in the food world. I have been sticking to places that are more casual and can accommodate a lot of smaller plates for amplified sharing. No specific items, as I hope they change every Sunday.

What’s different about your food?

I think the main difference between my food and some of my contemporaries here in the US are the techniques I utilize. They are unique and have been used for centuries in the Nordic countries. They bring a certain style and texture. There is also a distinct flavor profile that I stay with that is representative of where I am from.

Are you constantly making changes?

I am making changes daily. With the weather constantly changing, the market changes, the availability changes, so for me it’s adapting to incorporate what’s out there, what’s fresh.

When travelling to Sweden once a year, what are your favorite spots to go to there for food?

Some of my favorite places to go when I am in Sweden include Lisa Elmqvist in Stockholm, and 28+ in Gothenburg. Lisa Elmqvist is similar to a food hall, most comparable to Eataly, but it is not owned by one chef or company. At Lisa Elmqvist you can get really beautiful, simple dishes for a reasonable price. The environment also lends itself to very casual and social dining. 28+ remains one of my most memorable and most cherished food experiences I’ve ever had. It’s a 1 Michelin restaurant and it was during my first dinner there, when I was a teenager, that I realized I wanted to become a chef.

What are your favorite New York spots?

Recently I have been trying as much as possible to not re-visit restaurants, visiting instead  those I have not been to in the city – and there are quite a few left.  Having said that, some of my stand-by favorites include Azul in the East Village and Degustation in the East Village. I am also quite fond of Bohemian on Great Jones St – it has a very special environment and I am looking forward to bringing some family when they come to town. On the fine dining side, I recently went to Per Se and it was a breathtaking experience. Definitely the top dining experience I’ve had in NYC. I highly recommend.

Your favorite Scandinavian dishes…

My absolute favorite Scandinavian dish is pelle janzon. It is thinly pounded beef tenderloin laid gently over American löjrom. It is our way of serving ‘Surf and Turf’ – a lovely combination of salt and umami.

What most people don’t know about Scandinavian cuisine…

I think a lot of people don’t realize or know about our rich culinary heritage. We have always maintained these very old techniques adapting them for the times. Everything in our cuisine is based of the foundations that have been around for centuries.

The ingredients that are essential to Scandinavian cooking…

Horseradish, mustard, salt, sugar, pork, seafood, potato, various roots, dill, cress, sunchokes.

The ingredients that you’re not a fan of…

I have a hard time identifying each and every ingredient in Oriental and African spice mixes, so I am not fully able to enjoy them.

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