Introducing… ‘Food’ Tina

Sweden's answer to Martha Stewart, Tina Nordström mixes southern charm with a cheeky sense of humour, as Paul O'Mahony explains in his weekly briefing on the Swedes in the news.

Who is she and why is she famous?

Tina Nordström is Sweden’s most famous celebrity chef. The likable southerner’s untrammeled popularity make her something of a Swedish Delia Smith (without the major shareholding in a mid-sized football club), or Martha Stewart (without the spell in jail).

What’s her secret?

Like mama’s lasagna, it’s all in the recipe. Take a spoonful of southern charm, mixed with a dash of barely decipherable dialect. Add a sprig of humour and bring the bubbly personality to the boil. Stick the whole lot in the mixer and you’re left with a quite delectable dish.

Sounds tasty alright.

It’s a quite exquisite concoction, which has ensured that the woman they call Food-Tina has topped the ratings any time she’s been bothered to put her hand near a pot.

And what about family? Has she ever had a bun in the oven?

Hilarious gag. She’s only heard it more times than she’s had hot dinners. But yes, she and her boyfriend Martin have a little one-year-old called Albin.

Good for them. Is she in the news for anything at the moment?

Yes, she has just joined the board of The Empire, a company that sells SodaStream makers of all things. The company is run by Ian Wachtmeister, if you know who he is?

Yes. Isn’t he the bloke who made it into parliament with that strange New Democracy party in the early nineties? I thought he had gone had gone the way of the SodaStream but it seems both of them have been with us all along. Any other news?

Let’s see. There’s the whole masturbation thing of course.

What? Do fill me in.

One of the songs vying to represent Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest was performed by a group called After Dark. This trusty old drag act composed a ditty layered with more double entendres than you could shake a stick at.

Fnarr fnarr.

Oh, very mature. The song – the title of which translates as ‘(Oh) When you take things into your own hands’ – centered on the presenters of a number of Swedish do-it-yourself programmes. Each of them contributed to the stage performance with a short piece of video footage. When Food-Tina’s moment arrived, she could be seen happily sucking her finger as After Dark sang: “Tina knows how to get some foodie lovin’. She just fiddles with the knob on her hot air oven. Forget whisks and ladles, there’s enough dip to lick. Just use your finger, that’ll do the trick.”

Ooh er, missus! That was a bit saucy. So is she still keeping the juices flowing on Swedish television?

No. Food-Tina has recently been treating American audiences to her culinary delights on a show called New Scandinavian Cooking. Not surprisingly, she has proved a hit with US viewers despite being unable to use her trademark phrase: ‘jättegott’.

What does that mean?

It means eminently palatable.

Right. And is she beloved by all?

Not quite. Sweden’s former Prime Minister Göran Persson doesn’t have much time for the 34-year-old cookery ace. Taking time off from his top-level political duties, the portly premier once expressed a preference for Tone Bekkestad, the sprightly Norwegian weatherwoman.

And people wonder why he lost the election!


Is Elijah Wood in Sundsvall and what is he doing there?

It is not that Sundsvall is not a nice town. It is just that it is not normally the place where Hollywood stars go for a night out. So rumours that Elijah Wood was visiting the town quickly went viral on Thursday.

Is Elijah Wood in Sundsvall and what is he doing there?
The main shopping street in Sundsvall. And Elijah Wood. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT & Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

The 35-year-old actor of Lord of the Rings fame was reportedly spotted visiting restaurant 'Tuppen' in the central Swedish town, which posted picture evidence on Facebook and Instagram late on Wednesday.

News of the unexpected celebrity visit quickly dominated local news headlines in Sweden, and was picked up by some of the national newspapers too, with growing excitement on social media. Several newspapers even asked readers to call them if they had any more information about the visit.

“Starstruck at Tuppen. Celebrity visit in the shape of Elijah Wood himself from the Lord of the Rings. Thanks for the visit!” wrote the restaurant.

Not everyone was convinced that it actually was the star, however, and some speculated that it could just be a lookalike or a clever PR trick by the restaurant itself to attract more visitors.

“I think it's fake. They had a customer who looked like him and wanted to joke,” wrote one person on their Facebook page. “Is it fake or is he looking for the ring in Sundsvall now?” wrote another.

Wood, who's currently starring in BBC America series Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, visited Stockholm last month to perform at the Södra Teatern venue with his friend Zach Cowie as DJ duo Wooden Wisdom. His film production company SpectreVision, of which he is a co-founder, helped produce Swedish 2013 science fiction movie LFO.

With a population of some 50,000 people, historic sawmill town Sundsvall is the third biggest town in Sweden's northern region Norrland and Sweden's 21st biggest town overall. It is home to one of the campuses of Mid-Sweden University as well as Sweden's first-ever international casino.

Sundsvall's nearby island Alnön was recently voted one of the most beautiful places in Sweden. Restaurant Tuppen is one of a number of restaurants in the town. It opened in May this year and aims to serve locally produced meat and fish.

The reason behind Wood's supposed visit to the town was not immediately known, but it would not be the first time an international celebrity has fallen in love with unexpected places in Sweden.

Last year US-Haitian rapper Wyclef Jean revealed that he wanted to move to Sandviken outside Gävle. British actor Hugh Grant recently bought a house in Torekov, southern Sweden. And rapper Kanye West paid a visit to the rural town of Älmhult to convince its Ikea headquarters to let him design furniture.