Dinner Lab, the New Orleans-based, 21st century dinner club, has built its brand in part by showcasing the ideas of up-and-coming culinary talent, tapping sous chefs, cooks and others a few rungs below the executive chef level for offbeat, pop-up style dinners in cities across the country.
For an event coming up in November, however, Dinner Lab will bring an acclaimed chef to town for a taste of a cuisine that’s drawn worldwide attention.
Chef Magnus Nilsson has been hailed as a leader of new Nordic cuisine, which blends traditions of this rugged region with modern, often molecular gastronomy. His tiny, 16-seat restaurant Fäviken, found on an estate far to the north of Stockholm in his native Sweden, has made the prestigious “World’s 50 Best Restaurants List” (ranking No. 25 this year), and Nilsson has starred on the PBS series “Mind of a Chef.”
The chef has a new book out, “The Nordic Cookbook,” with 700 recipes from different Scandinavian regions and his own photography from his travels across them. To promote the book, Dinner Lab is producing a series of dinners in partnership with Nilsson and his publisher, Phaidon, with stops in six U.S. cities. The New Orleans eevent is Nov. 17.
Nilsson will be at each event to discuss his book, but he won’t be behind the stove. Instead, the dinners will be prepared by a different chef in each city, and each will offer a different perspective on the subject.
“This is the first time we’ve extended our reach overseas,” said Dinner Lab co-founder Paco Robert. “We’re bringing in chefs from around the Nordic region to present dishes drawn from the book or inspired by the book.”
The New Orleans dinner will be prepared by chef Christopher Haatuft, who runs the restaurant Lysverket in Bergan, Norway, and is an alum of the pacesetting New York restaurants Per Se and Blue Hill at Stone Barns.
The dinner is $175, which includes drinks and a copy of “The Nordic Cookbook,” which otherwise retails for $50. See the menu and get tickets at dinnerlab.com/nordiccookbooktour.
The book tour may be the last chance to see Nilsson without trekking to his restaurant for a while. The chef told the New York Times that after this tour he planned to forego any publicity events for a year.
In keeping with the Dinner Lab format, the venue for “The Nordic Cookbook” dinners are only divulged to ticketholders a day beforehand (though the local one will be somewhere in New Orleans).
In a change from previous format, however, you don’t need to be a dues-paying member of Dinner Lab to attend. In October, the company dropped its membership requirement, opening events to anyone who registers and buys a ticket.
“That’s something we’ve been wanting to do for a while, to open up our events to more people, and we’re excited to be able to do it,’ said Robert.
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter @IanMcNultyNOLA.