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Can food change the world?

Swedish food lab Atelier Food hopes so – and they want to start by putting Michelin-standard fare in schools and hospitals

  • Can food change the world?

    The Atelier Food still life by Petter Johansson (Photo: Henrik Petersson)

  • Can food change the world?

    The Atelier Food still life by Petter Johansson (Photo: Henrik Petersson)

  • Can food change the world?

    An Atelier Food lab (Photo: Petter Johansson)

  • Can food change the world?

    The Atelier Food restaurant (Photo: Henrik Petersson)

  • Can food change the world?

    A salad from the Atelier Food restaurant (Photo: Petter Johansson)

One of the spin-offs of the New Nordic Cuisine trend has been a whole lot of thinking about food. Copenhagen has led the way, with its experimental MAD Symposium food conferences and the Nordic Food Lab, a houseboat filled with decaying bacteria and edible insects.

Now Stockholm’s Atelier Food is taking things in a more socially aware direction. Co-founder Jan Åman, a writer and curator, was inspired by a meeting with elBulli’s Ferran Adrià, realising that food can be “a tool for innovation and social change”. He called in former Swedish chef of the year Stefan Eriksson, and art director Petter Johansson, who created the impressive cityscape of food in the image above, as well as a team of writers and innovators.

They’ve now run more than 20 “labs”, ranging from worthy subjects such as food sustainability and better meals for schools, to creating an art book about animal guts and a public discussion about reinventing the pizza using local produce (results included wild boar and beaver pizza).

Atelier Food is currently based in the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts, on Fredsgatan, where the group’s biggest project – an experimental restaurant that rethinks public food – is also located. “It’s based on low costs and simple techniques, but refined by some of the best chefs we have,” says Åman. So far, Eriksson is heading up the kitchen, but there are plans to involve Fäviken’s Magnus Nilsson and TV chef Niklas Ekstedt, who’s been making waves with his eponymous restaurant.

The dishes, says Åman, are closer to those found in Michelin-starred restaurants than your typical hospital canteen or elderly home – but that is exactly where they would like to see this food end up in the near future. As he says: “Food Atelier is much broader than the gastronomic world – it’s about everyone being able to eat well, and sustainably.”

See our story on Nordic Food Lab and why we will all be eating insects by 2023 here



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