Alex Edwards – Bakgården Restaurant in Kristiansand

I started cooking quite late but it has always been a passion for me, and quickly I started learning about amazing chefs that were putting all their emotions and feelings into the food and doing things no one had ever heard of, I fell in love. Once I started cooking I was hooked, everything about it, the adrenaline, the creativity and making people think, it’s a magical and unique profession we have. I met my wife in Australia 10 years ago and we decided to move to Norway (my wife is Norwegian) in 2009 and have been here since. Now I have two completely incredible kids who are the source of so much inspiration and motivation. I began working as the head chef at Bakgården only at the start of 2017, we have an amazingly committed team and we are all focused and driven to achieve the best we can and hopefully establish ourselves along side some of the top restaurants in the country.

Can you tell me about your day at work?
The first thing we do is get our bread rising in the morning, we have a small kitchen team so it’s all hands on deck most of the time. Once we’ve taken care of bread we begin with the rest of our mise en place. We always aim to be 3-4 days ahead, so generally mise en place is quite a relaxing time for us which is nice to be able to enjoy the process of cooking. After our prep the kitchen gets cleaned and set up for service, and the boys can have a break while I’ll go off to organise all orders and get office work in general done. When we hit service, it’s a very methodical and organised few hours. Once service is complete, we clean the kitchen down and go over all of our mise en place and make the plan for the following day. Then finally it’s time to go home.

What was the first dish that you’ve done as a chef ?
It may not be the first but the dish I remember the most from early in my career is actually an Asian inspired beef wok with Thai basil and mint, I can still remember exactly how that dish tasted so many years later.

Who is the model for you to follow?
It’s impossible to limit to just one but a couple would be Ferran Adria, Rene Redzepi, Thomas Keller, Virgilio Martinez and Alex Atala, even this is just the tip of the iceberg of influences.

Do you have your dream place where would you like to work?
Even though it’s no longer open El Bulli would be the dream, then of course many other restaurants such as Osteria Francescana, Gaggan, Central, D.O.M. and of course Attica back home in Australia.

Do you cook at home?
On days off I do most of the cooking.

What would you prepared for me in 10 minutes … i mean some food 😉 ?
Miso brushed cabbage, grilled over coals with a buttermilk and dill sauce and avruga caviar.

What would like to have as last meal in life?
Gaston Acurio’s “Cebiche from the Andes”.

What flavours you are most faithful?
Asian flavours for me are everything, I love to bring them into my dishes. Miso is such a big influence for me so it features quite heavily on my menus, but a noisette with some ginger, garlic and soy sauce is one of the most perfect flavour combinations on the planet.

What do you think about current trends in gastronomy?
I think it’s very exciting, we’ve seen the influence “New Nordic” had on the entire food world. Now it’s not uncommon for chefs to forage for herbs and other wonderful things, for me the philosophy New Nordic brought to the forefront is one of the most important of the last decade. I also love what Virgilio Martinez with his “Altitude” menu, when I first heard about it I was beyond excited.

What was the most important moment in Your professional chefs life?
I had a customer who ate at a restaurant I worked regularly, I made him the first version of a dish I’ve now spent quite some time on and he said it was one of the best dishes he’d tasted in the world. He is an enormous foodie and travels a lot, having him tell me this was such an exhilarating feeling and I’ll never forget that. It’s when I truly felt I was beginning to find my own identity as a chef.

Do you want to make your children have gone in Your footsteps / chefsteps?
I would support them no matter wat they chose to do, I would just want them to know that choosing to be a chef is not an easy one. It’s very hard to coordinate a proper family life and also try to chase your cooking goals, cooking for a living is a very selfish profession so I would just tell them to be 110% sure it’s what they want to do and if the answer is yes, I will do anything and everything to help them succeed, and be better than me.

Private lives there ? How it looks like?
Our restaurant is closed Sunday/Monday so Sunday’s in particular are wonderful, it’s just a really nice family day, we go to the zoo and all kinds of things have a nice family dinner and just hang out together. I look forward to Sunday more than any other day of the week.

What was the funniest situation at the kitchen, is it some fun there?
One time one of my best friends and colleagues thought it would be funny to flambé some vegetables and then spin around in the kitchen, what he actually did was create a line of fire from the stove to the pass, it may be a “you had to be there” situation but it was hilarious.

What advice do you have for young cooks?
Just be focused and dedicated, if you want to achieve the best you can, eliminate distractions and always try your best. The most important thing is to be a sponge, listen to what people say and read cook books all the time. When I started I spent all of my spare time reading books from chefs I admired and looked up to, I practiced their dishes at home, I practiced my technique at home and I listened to every single chef I worked with. Still I make sure to absorb any information any chef has for me, in our profession if you stop learning you will fall behind. Finally, never settle for being told “this is how it’s always been done”, always question, always stay inspired and find your own identity.

In which country is, in Your opinion, the most beautiful/interestig kitchen?
I can’t decide between Denmark and Peru, so I have to say both. Denmark with the Nordic kitchen has given us so much, and Peru has so very many exciting things happening.

Photos on your instagram, are so beautiful. Are you doing it ? is it a long preparation?
99% of them are just taken with my phone, try and get a bit fancy with the lighting from time to time but they’re really just snaps with my phone camera. Some are taken by professionals and that is always a fun experience.

Thank you.

photo: fot. Marcel Severin Tiedje

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