When Emma Bengtsson left Sweden a decade ago, she did so to join the kitchen at Aquavit restaurant in New York City—and she hasn’t left since. That’s not to mean things have changed for her since 2010 at the restaurant dedicated to modern Nordic fine dining. When she first arrived, Bengtsson was a pastry chef, but eventually she would take over both the sweet and savory side of the kitchen and has held two Michelin stars since she assumed control.
During Covid-19, Aquavit has gone more casual, serving creative-yet-comforting fare to go. Bengtsson’s menu features classics like herring, Swedish meatballs and picnic baskets filled with Scandinavian treats like gravlax and chicken liver with lingonberries.
In this episode of Robb Report Culinary School Bengtsson shows how you can make one of the most popular menu items at home, the shrimp roll. She also explains how she went from being a pastry chef to an executive chef and shares how she found a mental break from the kitchen with Latin dance.
Odds and Ends and Additional Links
- Aquavit underwent a full remodel last summer that included making the bar it’s own destination more “food you want to eat every day,” Bengtsson told Robb Report last fall. Like her fried cod sandwich that became a favorite of hers.
- Under Emma’s leadership, Aquavit retained its two Michelin stars last fall when the guide announced it’s 2020 New York edition.
- Emma has brought a lot of Swedish dishes to America, but one of them definitely isn’t surströmming, a canned, fermented fish that smells so bad, it’s illegal to have on planes.
- One of Emma’s favorite ways to disconnect from work is to take Latin dance classes.
- Head to Robb Report’s Instagram page to check out more episodes of Culinary School, including Top Chef winner Mei Lin’s congee and James Beard Award-winner Chris Shepherd’s recipe for bacon chile jam.