Top Chef Reneé to open a restaurant in Trondheim
This is Reneé Fagerhøi
Marital status: Lives with her partner Thomas Borgan
Profession: Chef. Has been head chef at the Kalas & Canasta restaurant in Trondheim. Won TV 2’s Top Chef competition in 2016. Currently working as a chef at Kontrast Catering and freelancing at events. Building the Bula restaurant at Prinsens gate 39 in Trondheim.
I studied gender theory and media studies at the University of Sussex in England. Then one day I woke up and thought: “I want to cook.” So I moved back home to Trondheim and began the process of training as a chef.
Two years later, I qualified as a chef. They say you can always find a job in the restaurant industry, but it took me a long time. I pretended to have more experience than I did and an employment agency hired me for events. But I’m a workhorse and I gained more experience. Finally I got a permanent job in a canteen, where I was canteen manager.
I have a lot of confidence, except when it comes to the food I make. I want to improve all the time.
The guys I worked with at Rica Bakklandet had worked as chefs for many years, so I knew I had a lot to do to reach the level I wanted. So I thought I needed to make a move and I entered the Norwegian culinary championships. It didn’t go well, but I learned so much from the experience.
Making competition food is a completely different way of thinking. It’s a bit like top-level sport, except that you don’t get any fitter.
I wish I could be more patient. I always want things to have been done yesterday.
When I arrived at Kalas & Canasta I realized that I could turn it into whatever I wanted and I redesigned everything from the bar menu to the website. The menu was changed to a five-course meal with a no-fillet policy and great flavors. I became known for using tough pieces of meat such as pig ears, blood, and rough fish. It turned into a personal project.
The worst thing to me is people who call themselves rock chefs. But I’m a little bit rock ‘n’ roll myself. I’ve been listening to rock my whole life, I’m radical, I’ve gone around wearing a Palestinian scarf and I’m the kind of person who takes life as it comes.
I don’t know why there are so few girls in restaurants. I hate to say it, but the chefs with stars in the Michelin Guide often have wives at home. It’s a shame that there’s no room to start a family in this industry.
I’m inspired by the trend in Paris where chefs are breaking down hierarchies and preparing food that reflects both the individual chef and the times we live in. Although I like everything, from extremely well-thought-out cuisine to street food. At Bula I’m going to do whatever I like.
Right now I’m tearing down what needs to be torn down in Prinsens gate. The floor will be re-laid. We’re doing everything from scratch. It’s incredibly fun and educational, but also very scary.
Text: Inga Ragnhild Holst