Explore the culinary delights of the Viking food with chef Trajce Kralev from Sveti Nikole, Republic of Macedonia
How did you come up with the idea to leave for Norway? It is not a country on the top of the list for leaving to work abroad, as far as it concerns the Macedonians.
Well, maybe it is not a country on the top for working abroad but it is really a beautiful country and you can learn a lot and earn, of course. Norway is not exactly familiar country for Macedonians. At the beginning there was a little uncertainty whether I would properly answer the given obligations to the Scandinavian cuisine, some of their specialties, whether I would properly fit in their mentality, but it was only at the beginning, now it is really great.
Did you have any test for work before you leave, for example to cook something and someone to assess that? How was that process?
Earlier I had some preparations, I had to have at least a slight knowledge of the Scandinavian cuisine and some of their specialties and dishes to teach them and that was not so hard for me. Certainly when I went there I had some “challenges” by preparing dishes and it was quite successful.
How did Norway accept you? Norwegians, actually Scandinavians seem to be quite restrained people when it comes to establishing new friendships?
Yes, they do. I really have a good experience, I contact with them and hang out, but I think that your own approach is very important thus characterizes your personality and that is noticed.
Are you still working at the same place since your arrival or have you changed your job, already?
Since the beginning I am working at the same place “Hanko Fjordhotell & Spa” and I do not plan to change any place or position, I’m just joking. At the moment I am here but it does not mean that I will not change my mind. . Usually they say time brings changes, so that is the same in my case. With good results in my work over the past 2 years I believe new offers will appear by people who know how to evaluate the quality. Soon there will be some changes, but we will leave that for another occasion 🙂
What attracts your attention recently? What is challenging to cook in Norway?
Well, I don’t know, recently I like to cook specialties that are not familiar in our country. Every time I learn something new, I try to add something on my own.
What do Norwegians at the most? I guess the fish takes the most important place in the menu of the Scandinavian people.
There’s no doubt that fish is their national product, whether dried or raw, salted or processed. Smoked salmon, herring, cured salmon, cod, anchovies and many others always prevail on their table.. Also they process the fish by adding sugar, vinegar and other ingredients. Besides the fish here are shells, crab, and many specialties associated with seafood.
I can say that Norway is one of the largest consumers of dairy products. The most interesting part is that they produce goat cheese, called Brunost, and Geitost – goat cheese with a slight taste of caramel.
Besides fish what other specialties can we mention as recognizable for Norway?
Well, I think that they do not eat a lot of meat as in the other developed countries, but they do eat exotic meat like that of a deer, elk and pheasant. Usually they eat meat with cream sauce.
According to the Norwegians, lamb is one of the tastiest meat in the world. One of the specialties that is prepared with such meat is “Farikal.” It is a boiled lamb with cabbage and pepper. Another specialty that they really enjoy is dry sheep ribs, which are called “Pineshot.”
Norwegian desserts are not behind their other specialties. The oldest is their dessert “GOME” or dessert of milk, eggs and brown sugar. Their cake “Blotkake” with berries is one of the most delicious desserts of northern Europe. They make a kind of pancakes known as “Lefse” and make them from potatoes and after frying them they strew with cinnamon.
What do they drink mostly, hot drinks, wine or beer?
Well, a good quality wine is nowhere left out as a drink and it is the same in Norway. They do not produce wine and therefore they drink imported wines. When it comes to other drinks, there’s a beer called “Aquavit” which is a hot alcoholic drink made from potatoes and some spices such as anise and coriander are added.
Do you eat fast food, what is the culture of eating there?
Fast food is everywhere around us. It is present in Norway but Norwegians are certainly people who stick to a healthy diet.J
Do you travel across the country, what is life like in Norway in general?
Norway is one of the most beautiful places to live and work. As the time allows me I walk and enjoy the beauty that is everywhere. And though Oslo is a city that everyone should visit J
What would you outstand from culture, entertainment, nightlife, as something more characteristic for Norway?
They have a specific culture, they are refined people, a little stingy on emotion but Norway is a beautiful and rich country and it really has a fascinating and beautiful life. But expensive as well:)
Have they heard in Norway for a Macedonian product, perhaps for the wine, this branch and the companies and manufacturers lately rather invest in advertising and marketing?
I think as a country we have a lot to invest in many of our true Macedonian products so we can become a recognizable brand in the market. However, I cannot say that they do not meet any Macedonian products, yes there is but in small quantities. Regarding the wines, they are mostly from Italian and Spanish origin.
What do you think is the most important thing a food producer should do to make its product a brand?
Quality, quantity, price, transport, advertising all this established in the distributive channels could lead to an initial course to the creation of the brand.
What is the secret way to cook a beautiful and a good meal in a way to impress the bosses and superiors and the guests as well? Is it perhaps the originality of the recipe, or the quality of the ingredients, or something else?
Certainly the quality of the ingredients joined by a good recipe play a major role, but I must emphasize that cooking with love is the key to a delicious specialty.
Is there any common thing at all between the Scandinavian and the Mediterranean cuisine?
I like mixing different cuisines. It’s always exciting to find new combinations. In my opinion Scandinavian cuisine is known for its straight taste, while simple and very healthy, on the other side Mediterranean cuisine is more complicated by mixing many flavors and also it is healthy and very tasty.
Have you ever tried cooking Macedonian food for the guests, what is their reaction?
No, I haven’t. But I am planning a little surprise to my colleagues, by cooking Svetinikolska Pastrmajlija.. about the reactions and impressions I will tell you next time.
When comes to Macedonian food what do you miss the most?
Traditional food is what I miss the most. We cook traditional food in a way to be very delicious and tasty and I’m trying to cook something traditional in my free time so that they can taste it.
Do you have family in Sveti Nikole and how do you communicate with them, do they come, or do you go there?
Honestly I communicate with them all the time. I have a wife and a five-year old daughter, mother, father, sister and we communicate on daily basis through the social networks. I have been to Macedonia, recently, but for sure they will come here, to experience the beauties.
What are your plans for the future? Climbing up the ladder for a better work position or perhaps opening your own restaurant?
Currently I love working and living here. Maybe someday I will be here with my family. Life is so unpredictable.
I tend to gain more experiences that would give me a good result in my career. Sure, I have plans for the future that I would not discover right now ……… Who knows, maybe in the future I will own my own restaurant. Each chef has a desire to own a restaurant where you can put all the in specific and selected specialties.