Esben Holmboe Bang, Maaemo, Norway

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 17th November 2015

IN ASSOCIATION WITH

Esben Holmboe Bang is co-owner and head chef of traditional Norwegian restaurant Maaemo which is based in Oslo. In 2012, just 15 months after opening, Maaemo was awarded two Michelin stars in its first ever mention in the prestigious guide, becoming the first, and only, restaurant in the Nordics to do so. Exterior_credit_Jimmy_Linus low resMaaemo is progressive cooking, using only the best Norwegian produce. It was voted as one of the top 100 restaurants in the world at the San Pellegrino 2015 World’s Best Awards. And Esben was listed in Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential Chefs in the World in 2013. The 32-years-old was born in Copenhagen and has always had an interest in nature and agriculture. He didn't want to be  a farmer but he wanted to do something which would allow him to express his respect for nature and he says 'food was the ideal way'. Enjoying the creative process he also likes that he can express his feelings and emotions on a plate while working with the best produce. None of his team are Norwegian so they try to read up on the cultural history and the gastronomical history of Norway. He says 'Norway used to be a very poor country so a lot of the old dishes and the ingredients they used at parties or at high society events used produce we take for granted now. We look at old dishes and try to redefine them - not make them more modern but have a fresh look at them'. Before opening Maaemo in 2010 together with Pontus Dahlstrom, one of the most talented sommeliers in Norway, Esben honed his craft in some of the most prestigious restaurants in Denmark and Norway. He's worked with chef Jakub Mielcke from Mielcke and Hurtugkar, staged in La Canard and French influenced Oslo restaurant – Feinscmecker.Food4_The_first_garlic_of_the_year_credit_Tuukka_Koski low res# Maaemo, translated means ‘Mother Earth' and this reflects Esben's pure cooking style and dishes delivered with great precision. It displays the relatively young chefs strict policy of only using locally sourced organic, transparent, wild and bio-dynamic ingredients. He showcases these ingredients on a set menu consisting of 20 different dishes and with the aim to capture the essensce of each season. Esben's mission is to create dishes which compliment the natural and clean flavours of Nordic products. He tries to blend into his menu the more traditional dishes and cooking methods of the old country. The chef has so many dishes on his menu as he says 'there are a lot of things we want to communicate'. The dishes are small servings and are served over three hours which is how Esben himself likes to eat - small, multiple courses. Esben wanted to create a retaurant that reflected himself and his ideas and admits that he draws his inspirations from every place he's worked, but he says 'as you work everyday to try and perefct what you are doing, then your own style and ideas become more sharp on the plate. Everyday we try to define what our ambitions are'. Food1_Burned_onions_quail_egg_and_fenalår_credit_Tuukka_Koski low resThe majority of reviews coming from the guests describe eating in Maaemo as a journey or story tale. Although pure flavours are his main aim, Esben's cooking style is playful. The chef uses a variety of the best vinegar and herbs. The guests can experience pickled Oslo fjord mackerel, sour cream porridge served with dried reindeer hearts or langoustines with pine. The menu and wine list are carefully selected and paired together to enhance the palette of flavours. Esben's aim for Maemo is that it delivers approachable cooking which diners can relate to, he doesn't want to cover it up with 'a crazy amount of creativity which is used the wrong way'. He hopes the cooking will continue down the same path in the future and the 'young restaurant' will mature as the dishes become more refined. By Anna Miller

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 17th November 2015

Esben Holmboe Bang, Maaemo, Norway

IN ASSOCIATION WITH