• Sweden's news in English

Nobel Banquet: the feast of feasts

Charlotte West · 10 Dec 2007, 10:16

Published: 10 Dec 2007 10:16 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

A feast fit for a king would be an exaggerated description of just about any meal, no matter how palatable, with the exception of the annual Nobel Banquet. The weeklong blitz climaxes on Monday with the feast of feasts – arguably one of the grandest dinners in the world.

The whole event is shrouded in mystery, and the menu is top secret until the almost 1,400 guests are seated at the banquet in the Blue Hall of the Stockholm City Hall at 7 p.m. on Monday, December 10th.

The composition of this year's menu is the result of the combined culinary prowess of chefs Krister Dahl, head of the Swedish Culinary Team, and Magnus Johansson, proprietor of the Xoko dessert cafe in Stockholm. This will be Johansson's sixth year of providing the Nobel dessert.

Last year, the eight Nobel laureates – and 1,240 other guests celebrating the memory of Alfred Nobel – enjoyed a spread featuring mosaic of salmon and scallops, herb-baked saddle of lamb and pineapple parfait.

Of the 2007 menu, however, those involved remain silent. “It will be good. Really exquisite tastes,” was all the tight-lipped Dahl would tell newspaper Göteborgs-Posten.

“We have prepared everything for the Nobel Committee four times, and it has obviously been approved,” he said.

Simplicty, Dahl said, was the key to success. “It's about creating a functional menu, which should be relatively easy to make, and then everything must be served quickly,” he said.

“It's a really big secret,” Linda Johansson of Xoko told The Local.

Whatever the delicacies turn out to be, they have been designed around a Scandinavian-related theme and are sure to whet the appetite – and keep the 30 chefs and 200 servers on their toes.

There are tables to set and food to buy. According to the Nobel Foundation, one year the shopping list for the banquet consisted of 2,692 pigeon breasts, 475 lobster tails, 100 kilos of potatoes, 70 liters of sweet and sour raspberry vinegar sauce, 67 kilos of Jerusalem artichokes, 53 kilos of Philadelphia cheese, and 45 kilos of lightly smoked salmon, among other ingredients.

With so many cooks in the kitchen, Ulf Östenius, General Manager of Stadshuskällaren restaurant, must run a tight ship. Östenius, along with Chef de Cuisine Gunnar Eriksson, is the man charged with the small task of making sure the logistics of Nobel Banquet go according to plan – something which is not to be taken for granted.

In an interview with the City of Stockholm, Östenius said that one year the main course was some kind of poultry that had been pre-cooked. It was supposed to be warmed up in the oven right as the electricity went out. They had to begin again with new raw ingredients, but nevertheless managed to make it appear seamless.

Another year, there was a panic because one of the laureates suddenly haunched over the table, but it turned out he had simply fallen asleep.

Despite the stories about near-disasters, Östenius somehow manages to coordinate his team of 200 and still make the entire production seem effortless.

On the morning of the feast, more than 7,000 porcelain pieces, 5,000 glasses and 10,000 pieces of silverware must be meticulously laid out on the 470 metres of linen that adorns the banquet's 65 tables. And while expectant guests anticipate their royal meal, it takes six minutes from the time the waiters begin the procession down the steps until everyone has been served. The king is served first, immediately followed by the queen.

The menu is decided upon months in advance. In August and September, the chefs prepare sample menus and present them to the Nobel Committee for tasting. Linda Johansson of Xoko told The Local that they presented three different dessert options to the Nobel Committee, which then chose the final selection.

Story continues below…

The good news is that you don't have to be a rocket scientist to get the red-carpet culinary treatment. As of Tuesday, December 11th, you can order the Nobel menu at Stadshuskällaren, also located in the Stockholm City Hall.

Unfortunately, the restaurant will only be serving the three-course meal to groups of 20 or more until January 7th, when the 2007 Nobel menu will become standard fare. The only exception is December 31st, where you can book a table to celebrate New Year's Eve Nobel-style.

Stadshuskällaren also offers every Nobel menu served since 1901 for groups of eight or more. Reservations must be booked one week ahead.

Xoko will also serve the Nobel dessert, including for takeaway, beginning on Tuesday. As an added bonus, they will also serve the entire Nobel spread on Wed-Saturday nights this week. But call quickly, as a representative of the cafe said there are only a few spots left.

Charlotte West (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Sweden can extend border controls, EU says
A police officer carrying out a check at Sweden's border with Denmark. Photo: Emil Langvad/TT

EU countries including Sweden should be granted permission to extend temporary border controls by a period of a further three months, the European Commission has decided.

Nobel Prizes
'I'd say he's arrogant but I'd be lying': Swedes on Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan performing in France. Photo: David Vincent/AP

Almost two weeks have passed since Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature and he has yet to acknowledge the win. The Local asked Swedes what they think of the singer's silence.

Sweden cuts 2016 refugee forecast by thousands
A Swedish migration authority office in Stockholm. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

The country has also slashed its prediction for 2017.

Swedish researchers plan new trucks for women drivers
File photo of trucks in Sweden. Photo: Thomas Johansson/TT

Could vehicles adapted for women attract more female truckers to the profession?

These stats show Swedish driving isn't so gender equal
File photo of a Swedish woman driving a car. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

A new survey shows that few Swedish women get behind the wheel when driving with their male partner.

Revealed: Game of Thrones could be coming to Sweden
Game of Thrones cast members at the Emmy Awards in September. Photo: Jordan Strauss/AP

The producers of the hit show have asked for three rounds of location pictures of Swedish island Gotland.

Prime Minister to meet Swedish troops in Iraq
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and his Kurdish counterpart Nechervan Barzani. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Sweden's Prime Minister Löfven is set to meet Swedish troops in Iraq on Tuesday.

Swedish politicians wage war on winter time
Soon it will look like this on your way home from work in Sweden. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Should Sweden stick with summer time all year round?

'Don't turn the Pope into a global teddy bear'
Sweden's Queen Silvia and Princess Leonore visiting Pope Francis in the Vatican last year. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

It's time to hold the Pope to account and make sure he turns his words about reform into action, argues a minister of the Swedish Church ahead of Pope Francis' visit to Sweden.

Löfven: 'Sweden will double its number of troops in Iraq'
Stefan Löfven and Haider al-Abadi during the visit on Monday. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has promised to double his country's number of troops in Iraq following a meeting with Iraqi counterpart Haider al-Abadi on Monday.

Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Property of the week: Kungsholmen, Stockholm
Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
The Local Voices
'I simply don’t believe in nationality'
Why we're convinced Game of Thrones is based on Sweden
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
jobs available