A man serving hors d’oeuvres from a trey beside a van.

Scandi-inspired food at Design Indaba

Speaking of different cultures and traditions coming together, the food being served by creative director and chef, Martin Nordin, is one of many melting pots here at the ÖVERALLT pre-launch event at Design Indaba in Cape Town. We spoke to Martin about the menu, the IKEA veggie ball, and how he started cooking.

From ad-world and creative lead at IKEA Food, to culinary extraordinaire with one book out already and another one on the way, Martin Nordin’s heart has always had a special beat for cooking. Today he is serving three Nordic-inspired small plates at the pre-launch event for ÖVERALLT.

Unlike many food connoisseurs, Martin’s love for food started out during his 18 months of serving in the military on an icebreaker as a chef. That is where he found solid ground in the kitchen, learning all the culinary basics with the luxury of fresh ingredients at hand. Fast forward a few years, many dinner parties, and a couple of thousands Instagram followers later, nowadays Martin spends his most time in the kitchen exploring new ways to cook with vegetables. “I like rustic dishes, and I’ve always liked stews and slow cooked food, but now that I’ve been cooking mostly with vegetables, I’ve gotten really nerdy about how to handle greens in new ways – to create a new texture or flavor – in the same way that we’ve been doing with meat for such a long time.”

The menu for the pre-launch event – recipes from Martin’s upcoming book “Fire, smoke, greens” – has a Swedish heritage with culinary techniques inspired by different cultures. “The fun in this is that it’s a mixture. Like, with the “stompa” bread, a modern version of the Scandinavian flatbread. It’s usually eaten more on the side, for dipping in sauces etc. But the way I’m serving it here is more like how you might eat a pizza in Italy.”

A bread-based hors d’oeuvre on a wooden table.

The lacto-fermented tomato soup is kimchi inspired, is a great example of how to care for a seasonal item in a way that enables you to enjoy it all year around. “We have a very short tomato season in Sweden, which means that we’ve advanced in ways in how to care for it, like with fermentation or pickling.”

A white bowl of soup on a wooden table.

Another obvious theme, for obvious sustainability reasons, is the minimal presence of animal products. Although the menu is completely meat free, Martin likes to work with dairy as a flavour enhancer.

An hors d’oeuvres with kale on top, on a wooden table.

“I think it’s great that IKEA is creating and developing dishes towards more sustainable eating – the fact that they’ve redone the iconic meatball into something healthy and more sustainable that is tasty too, proves a lot. The outcome affects the entire food industry.” Although he wasn’t apart of creating the veggie ball itself, he was a big part of the process and discussions around its communication. “I’m very proud of that work, and the fact that the team and I managed to focus on something that might not otherwise have been of importance.”

A group of people eating hors d’oeuvres in an outdoor setting.

Rows of hors d’oeuvres on a table.