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Chef revelations: Henrik Ritzen, head chef, Aquavit London

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Chef revelations: Henrik Ritzen, head chef, Aquavit London

What was your best subject at school?
I was never very academic, hence I became a chef

What was your first job?
I used to mow the neighbour’s lawn every week and I worked on the family farm when I was 10

What was your first job in catering?
I worked in a kiosk that sold ice-cream and pizza with ready-made bases on my
summer holidays when I was 16

What do you do to relax?
I love skiing; there’s nothing more relaxing than standing on the top of a mountain, knowing you are about to ski down it

What’s your favourite restaurant?
The Ninth on Charlotte Street

What’s your favourite hotel?
The Last House in Sri Lanka

What’s your favourite drink?
Sipsmith’s damson vodka with lots of ice and tonic

What’s your favourite food?
Anything that is fresh, full of flavour and cooked with love

Which ingredient do you hate?
Micro basil

Are there any foods that you refuse to cook with?
Anything that has been produced unethically

What flavour combinations do you detest?
Chocolate and strawberry

Which person in catering have you most admired?
Thomas Keller

Which person gave you the greatest inspiration?
Shane Osborn, when I worked with him in Gothenburg in 1995 – he brought me back into cooking after I thought I’d had enough

Cast away on a desert island, what luxury would you take?
A lilo

If not yourself, who would you rather have been?
[Legendary Viking leader] Ragnar Lothbrok

Tell us a secret…
Always add your salt at the beginning – this way you draw
out more flavour and use less salt

What irritates you most about the industry?
The shortage of competent chefs

Who would play you in a film about your life?
Heath Ledger

What’s your favourite book?
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

What is your favourite prepared product?
Kalles kaviar [cod roe spread]

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