Sjöstedt, the co-founder of Michelin Guide restaurant Lilla Ego is also a former Swedish Chef Of The Year and a gold-medal winner at the Food Olympics and Food World Cup. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone more qualified to comment on Stockholm’s food scene.
Given Tom’s high-achieving, glamorous background, you might think he would be a fan of flashy brasseries and pricey main dishes. But no. Tom likes simple, intimate Stockholm eateries.
“I love places like Bar Agrikultur,” he says. “It’s relaxed, easy cooking. No menu, very few seats. Just really good food and a lovely intimate atmosphere. You can have such memorable times there with just a couple of friends.”
Located in the heart of Södermalm, Bar Agrikultur, which is owned by the chefs behind the brilliant eco-Nordic restaurant Agrikultur, may only have about two dozen drop-in seats, but this creates an intimate dinner party atmosphere. The food is an ever-changing menu of seasonal snacks and refined small plates.
“I like restaurants where you can hang out with friends and just choose the food you want. No menus.”
“I love Hantverket too. It might be quite big but there’s such a great atmosphere. And the food is quite simple but super-innovative, too. I like places that are cozy and friendly but that also are very inventive with food.”
Tom, as befits someone who has been such a successful chef, has very clear ideas about the restaurant experience. And the importance of taste above everything else.
“First of all, when you eat something the taste should remain in your mouth for a long time. Sweetness, acidity, saltiness or heat. It should preferably stay with you all night. There are some restaurants that only serve small, easily-cooked plates of food. That’s not good. The chefs need to work to produce something great.”
Tom is a man totally obsessed with food. But it wasn’t always that way.
“I used to help my aunt out with food at a golf club in Germany. But I really wasn’t that interested in food. What I really, desperately wanted to be was a footballer. But I don’t think I was good enough! But working with the chef Karin Fransson at the Hotel Borgholm totally changed my life, and excited me about food and cooking.”
Since his time with Fransson, food has become an all-consuming passion for Tom.
“Sometimes I find it hard to sleep, because I’m thinking of ideas and dishes to cook. I simply never let go of the idea of food. I can’t. My driving force is to constantly develop my skills and food. Wherever I go, wherever I eat and whatever I experience, I try to take these ideas, or even just impressions, and add them to new dishes.”
Photo: Lilla Ego
Tom also thinks it’s important that Swedish chefs incorporate tastes and ideas from other parts of the world.
“Taking spices and ideas from Asia, for example, and other European countries, and making something new from them is an important part of being creative. Whether you take a flavour from an Asian country or an idea from Italy, it’s still important to ensure all the dishes taste as they though obviously come from the same kitchen. But acknowledging the rest of the world is important.”
Tom is proud of the cosmopolitan nature of the Stockholm food scene and believes it’s what gives the city’s culinary scene its unique flavour.
“There are many great restaurants here that take inspiration from other parts of the world. As a result, Stockholm is definitely one of the best places in the world to eat.”
This article was produced by The Local Creative Studio and sponsored by Visit Sweden and Visit Stockholm.