Introducing Niels Frederik Walther - chef to the Danish Ambassador in Japan
Niels Frederik Valther’s career as an embassy chef started in the late 1990s, at the Danish embassy in Tokyo. He catered for the Swedish ambassador in the Japanese capital for a few years before he was lured back to his former employer.
- We serve around 5000 guests per year. I tend to cook something traditionally Scandinavian when we have visitors from other parts of the world, and something inspired by the Japanese kitchen for our Nordic guests.
A number of Danish food companies are today present on the Japanese market, and Fredrik tries to incorporate their produce in his dishes.
- I use mostly local produce, though, and buy fresh fish at the big fish market in Tokyo. To import fresh produce, like vegetables and meat from Denmark is too much of a hassle and surrounded by restrictions.
Frederik Valther is all for the idea of a New Nordic kitchen and that catering at the embassies should reflect the home country.
- However, the manifesto must be workable. Working conditions at the embassy kitchen in Tokyo are totally different to the ones at the embassy in Burkina Faso.
Right now I am going back in time, and I am into hotel cookbooks. David Chans Momofuku, for example. Marco Pierre White is also a classic. Older cookbooks tend to be more about the food, and less about the pictures...
Nordic dish which made a success at the Embassy?
All kinds of fish dishes.
Recommendations to other chefs what to keep in the pantry?
Depending on where/which country.... Local spices, local dry goods, as well as the ones you would use at home.
Which is your favourite produce?
From Scandinavia... Rhubarb. A speciality not found all over the world. Otherwise any type of fish or seafood.
Spring, summer, autumn or winter?
Spring, when everything starts. That´s when you can still get the feeling for seasonal foods.
Favourite tool in your kitchen?
Small grater made of shark´s skin.
Favourite Nordic drink?
Carlsberg Beer & Aquavit
Who or what inspires you in the kitchen?
I get inspiration from books, television programmes, magazines, but most of all from shopping; looking at and touching the produce.
Photo: New Nordic Food II