Chef Sayan Isaksson Nour Stockholm

Chef Sayan Isaksson – Nour, Sweden

Chef Sayan Isaksson – Nour, Stockholm

From February 26th to March 3rd, Chef Sayan Isaksson of Michelin-starred Nour in Sweden brings his “Simply Scandinavian” menu to Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur. We catch him pre-event and learn a little more about his upcoming kitchen takeover.

What do you do, and why are you coming to Malaysia?

I’m a chef, and I run A restaurant called Nour in Stockholm, Sweden, together with Stureplansgruppen.

What’s a memory from your last visit to Malaysia?

Fantastic hospitality, excellent street food and a fantastic hotel.

How did you get into the industry?

My love for food got my interest as early as 10 years old, so I always knew that I would be a cook.

What’s one of your favourite Malaysian ingredients?

Lemongrass, lime leaf, fresh coconut milk, turmeric and galangal.

Share with us a story from behind the scenes.

It’s wonderful to work with people from other cultures and share our common passion, cooking for the guests.

What dish are you most excited about preparing for Malaysian guests at the MO Kuala Lumpur?

I think, in general, I’m excited to bring our style to the Malaysian guests and see how or if they like it. We cook with a lot of “umami” and have a special way of presenting food with many surprise elements and a lot of thought on aesthetics.

What food memory from your childhood or travels stands out?

I was eating at a restaurant for the first time with my mother. I was eight years old, and we had Chinese food. I remember fried shrimp and beef with bamboo shoots. It was amazing.

What’s an ingredient unique to Sweden that you’d like the rest of the world to know about?

It’s a fish roe called “löjrom” or vendace roe, orange and bright in colour and pops in your mouth. It’s pricy but delicious.

What’s the best/ worst part of your job?

The best is creating memories and joy for our guests; the worst is that it can be pretty stressful.

What’s one of your favourite food and beverage pairings?

Oddly enough, it’s pasta Bolognese with a glass of ice-cold milk.

What’s one of the most memorable things you’ve seen behind the scenes?

I was part of a promotion in a South German village in that small kitchen, and a jazz trio played as we were plating the food. I’d always felt a strong connection with food and music, but this night, the music and the food really came together.

The perfect day off would be…

spending time with my daughter in the park

A day in the life of a chef is…

Meetings, briefings, doing mise en place, greeting guests, cooking, plating, smiling, cursing, yelling sometimes, tasting, e-mails, listening and learning.

What do you do for fun?

I play a lot of badminton.

How have you grown in your profession? What are your key learnings from your start in the industry until now? Any misconceptions?

I’ve learned to handle stress and to be able to function under pressure. I hope I am a better listener and a just chef. The industry has outgrown the macho chef who is above all and demands total obedience.

What do you want people to know about being a chef as a profession?

That it’s the best job in the world but also quite tough

What’s your view on the restaurant scene in Stockholm?

I think post-pandemic is bringing guests and workers closer. We are more humble and grateful now than before the pandemic.

What practices do you currently implement or hope to implement to work towards social responsibility and sustainability in the future?

We try to reduce work hours, and we have zero tolerance for sexism and racism. We practise awareness of our surroundings, like what we have close by in produce, what we throw away, or how we can reuse this.

What can guests look forward to at the MO Takeover?

Food cooked and presented beautifully, a bit playful and with some Japanese inspiration.

The Mandarin Grill will feature two lunch and two dinner menus from 26 February to 3 March. The lunch set menus begin at RM158 for the 2-course menu and RM198 for the 3-course menu. The dinner menu features a full degustation menu for 5 courses or 8 courses for RM368 and RM398. These dinner courses also come with wine pairing beginning at RM158. Please contact +60 (3) 2330 8888 for dining reservations or email [email protected].

Check out the last kitchen takeover at MO Grill by Cuca here,  and stay up-to-date on the latest happenings in KL’s food and beverage scene here and here.

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