The story behind why Magnus Nilsson is closing Fäviken


"In any case strategic, this is not a wise decision," says Nilsson. "But what is the reason why someone runs a restaurant like Faviken? Because you want it, it's entirely driven by passion." He says that the special attention he has had, an effort that has turned an 18th century grain house into a restaurant that has regularly been counted among the best in the world, has left him. "For the first time ever, I woke up and didn't want to go to work."

Faviken and his 30-course tasting menu were told in the first season of "Chef's Table" and Nilsson was one of the chefs featured in Anthony Bourdain's "Mind of a Chef". Nilsson has written three cookbooks, including "The Nordic Cookbook", an encyclopedia of home cooking as large as the King James Bible that he studied, wrote and photographed on his own. It is easy to forget that he is only 35 years old and that Faviken was his first attempt to run a restaurant.

"I always knew that Faviken wouldn't be forever," he says, looking at a small herd of red deer on a nearby field, toward the snow-covered mountain of Areskutan, which is on the other side of the station ski town where he went to cooking school as a teenager. "It's not really a revelation, because it applies to all restaurants and all commercial activities and really everything."

Nilsson initially came to Jämtland to help manage the wine program at the Faviken estate and restaurant after making friends with the owners Patrik and Ann-Charlotte Brummer. He had stopped cooking at 24, and returned to Sweden after three years of work in Paris, hoping to become a wine writer. At that time, the Faviken restaurant was known for making moose fondue for the crowds. "My first service here was for 178 people," says Nilsson. "It was extremely popular."

"I'm not leaving because I'm unhappy with the restaurant. I'm leaving because I'm done. Because I want to do other things. & # 39;

What is the duration of a restaurant? Particularly a shirt with local products and wildlife, and a charismatic, ambitious and perpetually curious chef?

"It's a paradox of attitude," says Nilsson. He's in the restaurant kitchen about three nights a week, but says he cooks for his family almost every day. "You are very good at something and very quickly you find yourself doing it less and less."

Normally restaurants close because a lease ends, or a partnership ends, or the chef leaves to open another restaurant – none of which is Faviken's case. Nilsson acknowledges that he could hand over the management of Faviken to his highly talented staff, who now have 40, many of whom have been with him for years. But right from the start, Faviken was an intensely personal project, an extension of the particular curiosity models of his chef, who grew up in nearby Östersund, who hunts, feeds, preserves and plants much of the menu itself.

"I'm not leaving because I'm unhappy with the restaurant, I'm leaving only because I'm done, because I want to do other things". But, he says, "I don't want to hand it over and write an autobiography".

So Nilsson is planning the end of his restaurant with the same kind of precision that runs his kitchen. He intentionally waited to announce the closure until Faviken was fully booked for the rest of the year – reservations were open on April 1 and filled in a few hours – because he didn't want the remaining months to work like a trail, with diners arriving to cry or to gibbate. "You don't want people to be all crazy." For years, he went on a book tour and advertised the restaurant to fill his tables. Now, he says, "we have nothing to sell".

Later that evening, as the guests filled the tables on the second floor of the wooden farmhouse, Nilsson runs the service in the immaculate white kitchen. There is a digital countdown clock on the wall, a blackboard with the menu and notes for the after dinner staff meeting. In the center of the room is a stove where the crew extends a birch coal fire and prepares scallop trays that will be placed on a bed of faintly steaming juniper branches. For the next few hours, Nilsson and his chefs will accelerate and decelerate, controlling the rate of dinner per minute.

A calf saddle turns on the flames like the chassis of a car. The grilled giant oysters are skillfully cut in half, then conferred on plates surrounded by mussel shells nested like jewels. An intricate dish of lupine bean tofu fills small bowls. Outside the panoramic windows of the kitchen, the trees are turning black under a darkening sky as the sparks fly from the coal against the jagged horizon. As the menu moves to smaller, faster and sweeter dishes, Nilsson stages small and golden snowmen with potato and caramel biscuits. "This is the retirement plan," he says with a smile before shoving himself into his mouth.

The dinner ended with a procession of tiny dishes, tea and coffee and fermented liquor bottles at home while guests sit in comfortable chairs in front of the fire on the floor below. The large room on the first floor is decorated with dry grains; the saws are hung like works of art on the walls, like a wolf's fur does, as if a secular woodsman would hang it and forget it. A fire crackles in a huge tepee in the courtyard, where guests can sit and smoke in wooden chairs lined with sheepskin.

After dinner, the kitchen is washed for breakfast the next morning. Nilsson has returned home to check on his children – he and Tove, who is working on a master's degree in clinical psychology, have four children under the age of 12.

Until December 14th, the restaurant will work this way, filling the six rooms upstairs for overnight guests and accompanying guests for an evening of intricate Nilsson translation of the cuisine and the region's generosity. The gardens will be planted and harvested, the bakery and butcher shop in one of the buildings adjacent to the restaurant will continue to function. And then, just before Christmas, they will permanently turn off the fires and dismantle the operation. Until then, says Nilsson, he will focus on the restaurant, not on the elegies or explanations.

"As far as space and its future are concerned, the only thing certain is that we will never run a restaurant without Magnus in Faviken," Patrik Brummer wrote in an email.

The closure of the restaurant, Nilsson admits, is a "very selfish decision". Think of Faviken as the result of a particular set of circumstances that had to do with the people who came together to make a unique restaurant possible in the first place. It never worked on autopilot and shudders at the idea of ​​turning it into a museum.

Instead, he does not see the time to cook a last time for Central Swedish seasons, and to spend time away from the restaurant to be with his family and continue working on his new orchard – which has remained largely unchanged since it was replanted with the old variety of apples and pears after World War II – to the south.

Nilsson says he will plant more trees and interns with other gardeners to learn more about the craft. "I'm not exactly sure how it will pay for itself," he says of what he decided to do next.

"In the worst case, I'll take a job somewhere." To imagine.


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