Nothing less than perfection is on the menu for the Nobel banquet

Thu Dec 10, 2015 10:45am EST
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By Johan Ahlander

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - In a shiny new kitchen beneath Stockholm's city hall, more than 40 chefs are peeling, scooping, molding and baking local ingredients late into the night to feed an army of the world's great and gifted.

The Nobel Banquet is held every year since 1901, when the first Nobel prizes were awarded. Thea dress code is white tie and tails for men and gowns for women, and it one of the world's most prestigious awards events.

This year's banquet is two days away, but preparations are in full swing and the air is filled with delicious smells. The food has to be fit for a king - Sweden's Carl 16th Gustav, to be precise. It also needs to pass muster for 1,350 assorted royalty, aristocrats, notables from politics, business and the arts, scientists and the Nobel laureates themselves.

The menu is a secret, to be revealed only minutes before the food is served. Nothing is allowed to go wrong.

"I'm pretty calm and I want to enjoy myself", said Sayan Isaksson, this year's head chef and a rising star of Swedish gastronomy. "I've been preparing the menu for almost a year".

Following his selection as head chef by the Nobel Foundation, Isaksson presented three potential main courses to the food committee in March.

The final menu was set in August. Since then Isaksson has fine-tuned the dishes and has cooked them for the food committee almost every month.

"The banquet is held in extremely high regard internationally and the quality of the food served must be absolutely world-class," said Fredrik Eriksson, a gastronomy consultant to the Nobel Foundation for over 10 years and member of the food committee.   Continued...

Young chefs work to prepare the Nobel menu in the kitchen of the city hall, where the Nobel Banquet, one of the most prestigious banquets, will be held, in Stockholm, Sweden, December 8, 2015. REUTERS/Johan Ahlander