Swede of the Week

‘It’d be strange if I wasn’t nervous’: royal chef

'It'd be strange if I wasn't nervous': royal chef
The Swedish Royal Court has announced that Stefano Catenacci will be cooking for the royal family at Princess Madeleine's wedding this summer. The Swedish Chef is on the menu as The Local's Swede of the Week.

Chef Catenacci will be writing the menu and acting as restaurateur for the reception Drottningholm Palace in Stockholm following the June wedding of Princess Madeleine and her financier fiancé Chris O’Neil.

But it’s not the first time the Swede will be cooking for royal appetites – he was head chef at Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel’s wedding in 2010 – and guests shouldn’t expect the same dishes this time around.

“Yes, it won’t be the same food, but I can’t tell you any more, unfortunately. But it will be something different,” he told the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) after the announcement on Tuesday.

He did hint, however, that the ingredients would be Swedish, just like last time.

The chef has a colourful background in kitchens across Europe, with stints in Milan, Paris, and Brussels leading to his employment at the Operakällaren restaurant in Stockholm, where he has cooked since 1996.

Since 1961, Operakällaren has been responsible for the food at official dinners, gala banquets and other dinners hosted by the royal family.

Catenacci boasts a string of accolades to his name, including most recently finishing second at Kockarnas Kamp last year. He was also elected by his peers as the Chef of the Chefs in 2000.

But work in the kitchen was more of a lifestyle for the Swede before he took up the job professionally.

“I was very young when I decided to follow in the footsteps of my father. When I was 14 years old I began to work as a cook in my parents’ Italian restaurant in Stockholm, the Caina,” Catenacci wrote on Operakällaren’s official website.

“At that time we were only three persons working in that restaurant… my parents and myself. There has never been any alternative profession in my mind ever since.”

In terms of the royal spotlight, Catenacci explains that the June wedding will showcase typically Swedish food.

“The tradition is to honour the country itself, you really want to show what the country’s got. It’s important. All eyes will be on us so we’ll have to really show off what’s on offer,” he told SvD.

The chef will be in charge of over 50 other chefs, cooking for a hall full of diners, all the while trying to keep one step ahead of the guests.

“There’s a lot that can go wrong but the guests can never know. It can always go wrong when you’re cooking such big meals. But you always need a backup plan and this case is no exception,” he said.

And despite his considerable experience, the chef admitted a few butterflies were already doing the rounds in his stomach.

“You’re obviously always a little nervous when you’re doing these kinds of events. It would be strange and quite insensitive if I wasn’t nervous,” he said.

Editor’s Note: The Local’s Swede of the week is someone in the news who – for good or ill – has revealed something interesting about the country. Being selected as Swede of the Week is not necessarily an endorsement.

SEE ALSO: A list of The Local’s past Swedes of the Week

Oliver Gee

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