FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Chef Niklas Ekstedt brings fresh and flavorful Nordic cuisine to “MSC World Europa”

by Kimberly Inlander

Sep 23, 2023

PHOTO: © MSC CRUISES

September 2023

At age 33 Chef Niklas Ekstedt returned to his roots. Growing up in a little village in Sweden, during his chef training he found himself gravitating toward ingredients and tastes from other countries and away from the rustic slow cooking of the Jämtland forests. However, in 2011 he opened Ekstedt in central Stockholm, exploring the age-old techniques of Swedish cooking.

He also brought his renowned Nordic cooking to MSC Cruises, on board its MSC World Europa at Chef ’s Garden Kitchen, featuring the first-at-sea hydroponic garden and offering an immersive experience. Ekstedt’s techniques meet fresh seasonal ingredients in dishes like scallop ceviche; seared langoustine tail; and dessert of meringue, sea buckthorn, white chocolate and verbena.

WHICH FOOD IS YOUR GUILTY PLEASURE? AND ON THE OPPOSITE END OF THE SPECTRUM, WHAT IS ONE INGREDIENT OR FOOD YOU HATE TO USE?
My guilty pleasure in food would have to be chocolate fondue. There’s something nostalgic about dipping fresh fruits and marshmallows into that velvety goodness.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, I must admit I don’t like to use processed foods in my cooking. Fresh, seasonal ingredients are at the heart of my philosophy.

WHAT DISHES WOULD YOU SERVE AT A PRIVATE DINNER PARTY?
For a private dinner party, I would definitely try to grill a vegetable that is unexpected, like watermelon or cucumber. It’s always fun to see how the guest reacts when they get a vegetable they’re not used to seeing grilled.

WHAT WAS THE FIRST MEAL YOU EVER PREPARED ON YOUR OWN?
Ah, my first solo culinary adventure! I fondly remember preparing a classic Swedish meatball dish. It was a treasured family recipe passed down through generations.

IF YOU COULD DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONAL STYLE IN ONE DISH, WHICH DISH WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
If I were to describe my personal style in one dish, it would undoubtedly be my signature dish in my restaurant in Stockholm: beef fat-cooked oysters. It’s the one that has been with me the longest, and people really love it.

WHICH CULINARY TREND WOULD YOU LIKE TO DISAPPEAR?
As for culinary trends, one I’d like to see disappear is the excessive use of molecular gastronomy. While it can be a fascinating technique, some chefs prioritize spectacle over taste and connection to the ingredients. For me, cooking is about celebrating the technique it originates from.

CHEF’S GARDEN KITCHEN
MSC World Europa
MSC Cruises
msccruisesusa.com

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