The Reunion dinner: Kim Öhman
I first met Kim Öhman while working at the Fat Duck in the UK. We first worked in the restaurant’s kitchen together and then later in research and development – Kim for Heston Blumenthal’s then soon-to-open Dinner in London and me for the Fat Duck.
Research and Development showed us how to further what we learned first as cooks, to seek for deeper product and technical understanding. Our tenures at restaurants like Quay, in Sydney and Chez Dominique for Kim and for myself at Mugaritz and Per Se, started a loop that only truly began to make sense after R+D.
Chefs are always talking about “intuition” and tapping into their souls to develop a dish or a technique. Working with R+D meant “Soul” could be replicated, food made consistent. We learned to rely on research, trying to understand the technique and the process, what is happening to product on an elemental level. It made our food better and expression easier.
It was through this research that a shared passion for the study of food traditions across the globe became relevant to us. We both respect the need to understand tradition; we also agree that just because something has been done a certain way for hundreds of years, doesn’t mean it can’t be improved upon with sensitive understanding. It’s this understanding that we both try to communicate in our restaurants- Kim reinterpreting Southeast Asian dishes for a Swedish audience at Farang, me using unusual Southeast Asian ingredients with global techniques at Bacchanalia.
It was uncanny that we opened our respective restaurants, Farang in Stockholm, and Bacchanalia in Singapore, almost simultaneously, and had a chance to share the good and the bad stories that came with such endeavours.
It’s just great luck that now- almost three years later- we will get to share Bacchanalia’s kitchen for two nights. It’s going to be an awesome two nights, and I’m glad we are able to share that with our guests.