Chefs are inspired to focus on organic

At the Klippfisk Academy at the Atlanterhavspark in Ålesund, chefs, cookery teachers, kindergarten employees and a café owner gathered to gain inspiration to use more organic ingredients when making food.

The day was part of the ecology programme, which is administered by the food research institute Nofima on behalf of SLF (the Norwegian Agricultural Authority).

Wonderful information and useful tips

Both project manager Åshild Longva of Nofima and chef Øyvind Hjelle presented some tips for simple and inexpensive ways of increasing the proportion of organic ingredients. One such tip is to use ingredients that are produced in great quantity and are cheap. Organic oatmeal and milk are good examples of these. “Another tip is to use ingredients that grow all around us, like berries and fungi, and things like apples and plums that you may be able to pick in the garden,” says Øyvind. Both oatmeal and apples have starring roles in the day’s first dish, oat porridge with apple and cinnamon salsa. Next on the programme after porridge is vegetable soup.

“Many organic vegetables are sold at about the same price as conventional ones, so with these you can revel in organic produce without breaking the bank. This applies to potatoes for example,” says Øyvind.

And while we are talking about potatoes: we learned how to make good mashed potato, and since we were at the Klippfisk Academy, the mash was served with klippfisk – dried salt cod. Using local ingredients was also emphasised at the inspiration day. In Ålesund this means klippfisk, in Elverum it will be game, and so on. Øyvind is an inspiring chef who spices his food preparation with useful tips, such as how to mix gelatin to avoid getting threads, how to avoid lumps in the sauce and that a heavy sauce gets a lift from a few drops of lemon.

Starting small; the government’s goal is 15%

After the demonstration and lunch, it is the participants’ turn to get cooking. In his compendium 15% økologisk 100% matglede (15% organic, 100% food pleasure), Øyvind has collected a number of good dishes to suit various occasions. Some are intended for hotels and restaurants, others for schools and kindergartens and for institutions for the elderly. “And remember,” says Øyvind, “you can start small and replace a few vital ingredients.” That is music to the ears of café owner Carina Nørve.

“It’s a relief to hear that not everything needs to be organic, that it’s OK to start small. Not all ingredients are so easy to get hold of, so it was good to hear that most people serve dishes that are less than 100% organic,” says Nørve.

Several of the recipes in the compendium are used when the participants get cooking, including hen fricassee based on ready-cooked organic hens in their own stock from Toten egg packing plant. While the scent of hen fricassee and caramelised onion from the baked vegetables fills the air, Elizabeth Ramstad, who is in charge of the kitchen at Barnas Hage kindergarten in Larsgården, explains that at the moment they only use organic milk. “Now I have been inspired to use much more organic produce. We can quickly replace the oatmeal and potatoes with organic versions. I am sure the children will like the porridge and mashed potato, as well as the hen fricassee,” she says.

At Borgund Upper Secondary School, where Perry Larsen works, they do not use much organic produce at the moment either, but now he has some ideas for increasing this inexpensively. “Taking part in this has been very inspiring: learning, getting lots of good tips and having a pleasant day socially with the other participants,” says Perry.

Raw materials and process optimisation  

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