The 33-year-old Fredrik Berselius has been perfecting his craft in New York City’s hippest borough, Brooklyn, for over a year.
With his overgrown hair and modish good looks, you’d be forgiven for thinking Fredrik Berselius is part of Williamsburg’s fashionable young music scene. But Fredrik’s craft is not music, it is food and nature, for he combines the two to create dishes that are all about the ingredients—at his 18 seat restaurant, Aska.
Open six days of the week, Aska offers guests a weekday seven course tasting menu ($65) and a weekend ten course tasting menu ($115), plus a small bar menu.
“The menu—which includes dishes such as peas, trout and sorrel; squid, cucumber and scallion and duck, pine and rhubarb—is based on what is available at the market and what is growing around us,” says Fredrik. “We want the ingredient to speak for itself with flavours and techniques that are Scandinavian—ones that I grew up with.”
While Fredrik is thousands of miles away from his hometown of Stockholm, the influence of his homeland is never too far away. “The food we cook reflects the region, its time of year and memories from growing up in Sweden and Scandinavia. We work closely with our farmers, purveyors and what we can find in the wild.”
Fredrik’s approach to cooking is all about using the best possible handpicked ingredients at every opportunity. Using local ingredients and being surrounded by so much creativity in Brooklyn means that Fredrik inevitably taps into local inspirations, as well as those from his native Sweden. He says: “I am influenced by both north-east USA and Scandinavia. We are located in a very young area in Brooklyn that I find very creative and inspiring. Parts of the north-east [USA] has many similarities to Scandinavia in terms of the seasons and produce that’s available.”
There’s an element of nostalgia in Fredrik’s cooking, too. Using the memory and moments from his past, in Sweden, to create dishes, such as the dill and anchovy.
Earlier this year Fredrik was crowned Food and Fun Chef of the Year 2013 at the annual Reykjavik food festival. The festival involves 15 world-renowned chefs, who each collaborate with a local Reykjavik restaurant for three days, before creating a three course menu on the final day— using only Icelandic ingredients.
Working in his assigned restaurant, Dill, Fredrik’s collaborative menu included salted cod and burnt bay leaf; beetroot, egg yolk and mushroom; lamb, caramelised Skyr and onion and arrack sorbet, hazelnut and brown butter.
Fredrik’s team at Aska is made up of Swedish, Danish, American and Mexican chefs, creating a melting pot of culinary talent that, Fredrik says he is extremely happy with. “I have a great team working with me here— one that I’m very proud of.”
90 Wythe Avenue at N. 11th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11249
+1 718 388 2949
Images © Nathan Rawlinson