A Feast Most Nobel
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During the course of the India-Swedish Nobel Memorial Week, which concludes today, one of the more interesting events was a cook-out at Delhi's The Park hotel in Janpath, involving kids dishing out smorgasbord (a traditional Swedish buffet-style meal). At the helm of the affairs was Chef Mark Phoenix, a member of the Nobel Committee that decides the menu for the Nobel Banquet held at Stockholm's highly celebrated Blue Hall.
As Phoenix taught the kids, both Indian and Swedish, how to prepare traditional Swedish dishes like Gravlax (pickled fish, usually salmon), he was perfectly at ease instructing them, which is not surprising since he has been in and out of India since 2003. "While most of my work has been based in Delhi (including a stint as the General Manager of the British High Commission), I've had the opportunity to travel to places such as Varanasi, Kerala and Goa. I just love the diversity in the food here, it's like every state has a different flavour. And the people are as varied and wonderful as the food" he says.
Originally from Sweden, Phoenix has traveled all over the world during the course of his career, specialising primarily in Swedish, French and Italian cuisines. He has consulted hotels and restaurants as diverse as the Intercontinental in Hyde Park, London, the Nordic Club, Dhaka and Buddha Bar in various parts of the world. Interestingly, when cooking for the laureates, it is his expertise with his native Swedish cuisine that is of most use. "Most people seem to think that the Nobel Banquet is this elaborate feast, with dishes from all over the world. In fact since 1999, it has been a simple three-course meal, comprising mainly Scandinavian fare", he explains, adding with a smile, "you're not going to find pasta or paella being served here."
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