Photo: Fredrik Ringe

Food & Drink

Trondheim the Michelin city

Just a few years ago, the only places to eat out at in Trondheim were pizzerias and chain restaurants. Today, the city has two Michelin starred restaurants.

Runa Kvendseth har varit en del av det norska juniorkocklandslaget.

Grouse, Arctic Char and Salmon. These are some of the ingredients, former Norwegian National Team Chef Runa Kvendseth serves guests at the chef’s table in Speilsalen at the Britannia Hotel in Trondheim.

“We change the dishes on the menu with the seasons,” Kvendseth says to Scandinavian Traveler.

She prepares the food in front of the guests.

“They ask loads of questions. This forces me to think about why I do things, which is fun,” she says.

Trondheim, with around 193,500 inhabitants, hasn't always been the kind of place people ask loads of questions about what's being served. But that was then, not now. Her new restaurant Speilsalen opened in the spring after Odd Reitan, the man behind Norwegian supermarket chain Rema, had renovated the hotel it is housed in, the Britannia. Renovation work on the hotel, which dates from 1897, is said to have cost Nkr one billion. And many leading chefs in Norway, including Kvendseth, work in the kitchen that is headed by Christopher Davidsen, himself a Bocuse d’Or silver medal winner. Speilsalen has several other fierce competitors in Trondheim, including two that have each been awarded one star in the Guide Michelin. 

Went traveling – and came home

“One of the reasons is that many chefs from Trondheim that have worked elsewhere, have come back and opened their own restaurants,” says Kvendseth.

One common denominator for these chefs is that they’ve wanted to do things in their own way,” says Peter Andrè Gjerde, Marketing Director of the Britannia.

“They don’t follow traditional rules and trends, they prefer to seek inspiration from what they have learnt from apprenticeships abroad and when traveling, to create new and exciting dishes from the fantastic raw materials we have here in and around Trondheim. Mette Evensen and Martin Hovdal of Røst, are good examples of this, having worked at some of the best places in Oslo. They opened Røst Teaterbistro when they came back to Trondheim a couple of years ago. Jonas Nåvik at Fagn worked at Alinea in Chicago and with Mathias Dahlgren in Stockholm, and then started his own place a couple of years after coming back to Trondheim. Both Reneé Fagerhøi at Bula (bronze in the Norwegian Championships in 2013 and 2014) and Thomas Borgan (gold in the Norwegian Championships in 2012) at Kraft Bodega, prepare food that takes its inspiration from the whole world. They have traveled to South American, the US and the East, and produce very exciting food based on their experiences.

That the Britannia Hotel has snared Davidsen meant a great deal.

“Having one of the world's best chefs in Trondheim gives everyone a lift and attracts talented people who want to work with him. He has a very young and hungry brigade at Speilsalen, and the same can be said for the other restaurants in the city that have made a name for themselves in the last three years. All the best talents want to work for them. It's a virtuous circle.”

Torkil Helmersen,Håvard Werkland, Runa Kvendseth and Artur Sulikowski. på Speilsalen på restaurant Speilsalen i Trondheim. Photo: Lars Petter Petersen

“The fact that Trondheim isn't a big city means it's a small and close knit environment, and people in the sector support each other,” says Gjerde.

“This can be seen with the newly established concept & Friends, where several of the best restaurants in the city rotate hosting and organizing a special evening where they invite chefs from the other restaurants to each prepare and bring their own dish on a specific theme. The first of these evenings was held at Spontan in June on the theme of signature dishes, where Sellanraa, Bula, Kraft, To Rom, Røst and Fagn each contributed their own dish. This month it was Fagn’s turn to be the host and Nåvik challenged all the others to come up with a dish inspired by early 20th Century France. This is a good example of the close knit and healthy environment in the sector here in Trondheim, and how we can inspire each other by cooperating.”

Soil under their nails

Many of the restaurants also use ingredients from the sea, the mountains and countryside around Trondheim.

“People are more and more concerned about climate change. Which means we can’t use ingredients from the other side of the world. We have to use what we have here. Here in Norway, we have good raw ingredients, so why import others when what we have here is of better quality? The farmers care about what they produce and want to supply the best they've got.  There is also plenty of rivalry between them and they all want to supply the restaurants.”

And in Trondheim, the chefs have soil under their nails. They engage with the farmers and help them develop their products. On the walls of Credo restaurant are photographs of some of head chef Heidi Bjerkan's most faithful suppliers, namely cows.

“It is important to make the most of what the land and food producers can offer. We work closely with them concerning everything from how to get the best sour cream from each individual cow to how the vegetables grow in the soil and how they are stored,” Bjerkan told Scandinavian Traveler earlier this year.

This year, Credo gained its first Michelin star. The restaurant also won the new Michelin Sustainable Award.

One of the meat suppliers to the Britannia, is Røroskjøtt.

The food served in Trondheim is often based on produce from the surrounding area. Here at Speilsalen in Hotel Britannia. Photo: Fredrik Ringe

“We have developed products in close cooperation with the chefs. They can control the salt content or herbs and spices, for example, or if they ask for new products we can make them,” says General Manager Kjell Ove Oftedal of Røroskjøtt to Scandinavian Traveler.

The animals are from the Røros arean and spend time out in the open in areas that cannot be used for grain production. That ensures our production is sustainable. Animal health and welfare are also important. It all boils down to a question of quality.

“We supply tradition with input from some of the world’s best chefs.”

European Region of Gastronomy

The Trøndelag County Administration, Municipality of Trondheim, Visit Trondheim and Oi! Trøndelag Food and Drink recently applied for the status of European Region of Gastronomy for 2022.

“We have prepared an application that describes Trøndelag as a food region. Gaining such status would show that Trondheim is a food region on the same high level as other European regions. Being granted this status would be a feather in our cap,” says Communications Officer Kristine Rise of Oi! Trøndelag Food and Drink.

Whether Trøndelag gains this status will be announced in the new year. Other regions that have been granted this status include Catalonia, East Lombardy and Århus.

Back at the Britannia, Kvendseth says that people in Trondheim now use their city to a greater extent. They don't just go out on the weekend or to work, they also go out on weekdays.

“It's important that people use their cities,” says Kvendseth.

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