EatDrinkJax.com talking Swedish cooking with Chef Karin Asmus-Herke of The Swedish Bistro Food Truck.
1. Tell us about The Swedish Bistro Food Truck.
We're a food truck serving authentic Scandinavian and European cuisine. All our food is made from scratch. Karin is a trained, Swedish chef and will be responsible for the menu and food preparation. The Swedish dishes will be done as they're done in Sweden using recipes drawn from Karin's family restaurant. Our signature dish will be our Swedish Meatballs, made using a recipe that has been passed down from Karin's grandfather.
2. Why did you decide to open a food truck?
Karin's family has a seasonal restaurant in Sweden where Karin is the Head Chef. We wanted to open a Swedish restaurant here in Jacksonville but Karin needs to be in Sweden regularly to help with her family restaurant and so she wouldn't be able to devote herself full time here in Jacksonville. November and December are the busiest times for the family restaurant in Sweden and Karin needs to be there at those times. So, we'll just park the food truck while she's away and resume business when she returns.
Chef Karin and Chef Lee cooking
3. Can you tell us about Karin's culinary background?
Karin: I was born and raised in my family's restaurant. My grandparents bought an old schoolhouse in 1966 and converted it into the restaurant that they opened in 1969. The property my family lived on was the same property shared by the restaurant so I was in the kitchen from an early age watching my parents and grandparents work. I started serving in the restaurant when I was 16 years old. My family ran a successful restaurant but none of them were trained chefs. So, when I turned 18 I attended culinary school to learn advanced cooking methods and did an internship in a restaurant in Stockholm. When I finished school, I worked in a restaurant in Berlin and then came back to my family's restaurant and took over as the Head Chef.
When I moved to Jacksonville I worked at a few local restaurants - first at JJ's Bistro on Gate Parkway, then at Taverna in San Marco.
Potato Wedges with Curry Ketchup
4. What brought Karin to Jacksonville?
Andre: Me! I'm from California originally but came to Jacksonville when I was hired to be the head tennis coach at Jacksonville University. I fell in love with Jacksonville and stayed here even after I stopped working for the University. Our father's grew up in Berlin and knew each other in their teens. I met Karin through my father when I was on vacation one year and visited Karin's family restaurant. Karin has been in Jacksonville now for about 4 years.
5. As a Swedish chef, where does Karin like to eat out in Jacksonville?
Karin: I like different dishes at various restaurants but BB's is one of my favorite restaurants in Jacksonville.
6. What exactly is Swedish food?
Swedes cook a lot of fish, potatoes, and meat. For lunch, sandwiches are less common in Sweden than they are here in the US. Swedes will typically have a hot-cooked meal for lunch.
7. Are there food trucks in Sweden?
No. There are no food trucks in Sweden. The roads are narrow and the weather is not good for food trucks.