Chefs in the City: Fredrik Berselius
For this Broadcast series, Pioneer Works Supper Club chefs and collaborators are asked what small businesses they frequent—in a celebration of city life, good food, and all things local. In the process, we learn more about their background, their worldview, and what day-to-day activities inform their creative, culinary practice.
Fredrik Berselius is the chef and owner of Aska in Williamsburg—currently the only restaurant in Brooklyn to hold the honor of two Michelin stars. Originally from Sweden, Berselius combines his Nordic roots and love for nature with an impeccable design sensibility and utmost care for each dish he creates. Not only are ingredients meticulously and seasonally sourced from local purveyors (sometimes foraged or even grown at the restaurant itself), Aska’s tableware was custom designed by Berselius with a ceramicist upstate.
“I was not planning to be a chef or be in the hospitality industry. I had studied design—graphic design, interior design—but ended up taking a kitchen job and surprised myself by falling in love with it, falling in love with the energy, of working with food and being part of creating an experience. At one point I decided to open my own restaurant, to make that the goal. Since I wanted to be in New York, I realized that cooking served as this medium for me to stay connected to where I was from and the restaurant itself an intersection of so many of my interests—from creating an atmosphere through the design and feel of the space, telling a story through each detail from the tableware to the lighting and how we interact with guests at the table. It’s so multidimensional.”
I spent the afternoon in Brooklyn with Fredrik, his wife Katrina, and their daughter Alida, getting an inside look into the tight knit Scandinavian and foodie communities in Williamsburg, while learning about forageable items growing in the sidewalk along the way.
705 Driggs Ave, Brooklyn
"BonBon is a Swedish candy store close to Aska. They opened the original one on the Lower East Side, and they sell Swedish candy and other sorts of specialty foods and items. I try not to eat a ton of sugar, but it’s probably one of my vices to eat salty licorice. It is definitely something I always pick up, and I also like these little peanut butter crisps that remind me of my childhood, plus the salty creamy fish roe, Kalles Kaviar, that comes in tubes like toothpaste that you spread on your crisp bread, or sandwich, or on your boiled egg. They sell Swedish cheese that I normally come for as well, to go with my morning toast and jam. I think there are a good number of Swedish people living in Williamsburg, and it’s nice to have a place that sells these specialty items."
295 Grand St, Brooklyn
"Four Horsemen is a place we go whenever we have a free moment, not quite often enough. It’s a restaurant where you can pop in to just have a few bites, drink delicious natural wines from some of the most interesting producers, or you can stay for hours enjoying nearly everything on the menu and discover new wines from their extensive cellar. I’ve know the owners and the chef for many years now, and I am so happy they are in the neighborhood. Now it’s a Williamsburg staple."
MARLOW & DAUGHTERS
95 Broadway, Brooklyn
"Marlow & Daughters is a butcher shop that sources some of the highest quality meats and vegetables from nearby farms. I often buy ground beef for making Swedish meatballs, or whole chickens—they have two types which are both wonderful—or their in-house cured ham, bacon, or dry-aged meat. Today I bought some chicken liver to make mousse for my daughter, who is starting to eat solid foods. Marlow is owned by Andrew Tarlow, who really established the farm-to-table movement in Brooklyn. Diner, his restaurant just down the street is another staple where I often go." ♦
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