Corazon Miller is a NZ Herald reporter

MasterChef NZ 2015 winner throws in day job to follow his foodie dream

MasterChef NZ winner Tim Read has thrown in his day job to follow his foodie dream across the world and learn from the best Nordic chefs - including three months at Sweden's internationally-renowned Faviken restaurant.

Read, 26, a physiotherapist by trade, is leaving to spend time with family in Australia next week, before heading across the globe to the Swedish culinary gem ranked 19th in the world.

Following three months at the restaurant, which also featured on Netflix series Chef's Table, the 2015 MasterChef winner was headed for Norway's Maaemo restaurant - one of the first Nordic restaurants to earn three Michelin stars.

"I realised the restaurant world is something I want to pursue," he said. "My passion for cooking has been in hunting and fishing and taking that to the table and using as much of that as possible."

He said given his food philosophy the decision to head to the Nordic countries, where fish, game and local produce were a big part of the cuisine, was a logical step.

"It's all about sustainable produce; Faviken in particular will hunt and catch and forage and grow as much as they can themselves.

"That's what I love about food and that's why I thought I'd go and learn from the best."

The Swedish restaurant, run by celeb chef Magnus Nilsson, is located in a remote old barn in Jarpen almost an hour's flight from the nation's capital, Stockholm.

It specialises in creative, yet traditionally rustic fare often cooked over juniper branches.

Maaemo - an old Norse word meaning Mother Earth - holds a similar food philosophy with cuisine that's said to be a "reflection of our Norwegian climate and history".

" . . . local produce driven cuisine with a focus on reflecting the changing seasons and the raw nature of Norway."

While Read said the idea was to learn in the kitchen, he also hoped to learn how each restaurant sourced its ingredients.

"If I can have anything to say about it I'll be trying to hunt and catch myself," he said. "For me, the kitchen is not the start of the process, nor is the dinner table the end.

"In my eyes, food begins with the planting of a seed or the 5am start for a fish or a hunt, it is then always in a process towards the dining table, but doesn't stop there."

Read, who has no formal chef training, said he was pleasantly surprised when the prestigious restaurants accepted his requests to come and learn from them.

"I actually only started cooking five years ago," he said. "The 'spark', however, really ignited when I shot my first deer. I butchered it myself then, as a group of uni mates, we then congregated and made a dinner party, splashing out on some nice wine and making a venison osso bucco."

Everything he'd learned since was largely self-taught - though he also credits his experience with MasterChef NZ in enabling him to fulfil his foodie dream.

For now his main focus was on his upcoming Nordic adventure, but Read said owning his own restaurant one day wasn't out of the question.

"Having my own would be an incredible experience, but what that looks like? I got a few different ideas."

Examples of food featuring at Faviken

Menu changes regularly and is dependent on availability of produce and local ingredients

"We do things as they have always been done at Jamtland mountain farms; we follow seasonal variations and our existing traditions. We live alongside the community," read an online description of the Faviken menu.

Salted herring aged for three years
Cured pork strips
Scallop cooked over juniper branches and served in broth in its own shell
Potatoes cooked in decomposed autumn leaves
Retired dairy cow
Lamb's tongue, braised and garnished with brined dandelion and slivers of rhubarb

Examples of food featuring at Maaemo

Menu changes regularly and is dependent on availability of produce and local ingredients

"At Maaemo, our focus is on a complete experience. In doing so, we want to highlight the relationship between the raw produce, and the expression in the cuisine."

Diver scallop served warm with lightly pickled leeks, tarragon and a few drops of rapeseed oil
Oyster emulsion, cucumber jelly, horseradish and dill with seaweed
Arctic cod served with celeriac and a light balsamic and apple vinegar reduction
Baked beetroot with chamomile
Cheese from Eggen farm

- Herald on Sunday

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