World Chefs: Staffan Terje makes plans to return to Swedish roots

Tue Oct 15, 2013 10:57am EDT
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By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Chef Staffan Terje trained in his native Sweden and has lived in the United States for 30 years but regional Italian cuisine is the focus at his San Francisco restaurants.

With his partner, Umberto Gibin, Terje opened Perbacco seven years ago in the city's financial district, followed by Barbacco. Both eateries feature dishes from the regions of Piedmont and Liguria in northern Italy.

Terje fell in love with Italian food many years ago and has been cooking it since then, but he could soon be returning to his Scandinavian roots with plans for a third eatery in San Francisco, a Swedish-style restaurant.

"It will be a brasserie where you will see good Swedish meatballs next to steak frites with Bearnaise sauce and there will be oysters on the half shell, as well as pickled herring," he said.

Terje, who is also planning to write a cookbook, spoke to Reuters about discovering Italian cuisine, his family influence and the importance of sourcing ingredients.

Q: How did a Swede become the chef and co-owner of an Italian restaurant in San Francisco?

A: It really started when I had finished hotel and restaurant school and I was working in a French restaurant in Stockholm. Summer in Sweden is a good time to take a vacation. A friend of mine and I were both young cooks and we went around Europe for a month and a half.

During our trip we were in Italy and we ended up spending close to two weeks in Liguria ... All the food we had there was amazingly simple and amazingly tasty. That was my first real introduction to Italian cooking and I just fell in love with that simplicity of great ingredients, done simply but done well. Since then it has always been with me. I've always wanted to know more and more and more.   Continued...