Chef Ulrik Jepsen – the Food Markets in Provence Inspired Me To Become a Chef
Meet Chef Ulrik Jepsen, the man behind one of the best and trendiest restaurants in Oslo – À L’aise. With 5 out of 5 ratings on Tripadvisor, and a plethora of top reviews by some of the largest media outlets in Norway, À L’aise has become a gourmet destination for Oslo’s residents.
Before the conception of the French fine dining establishment, Ulrik cut his teeth in 1 and 3 Michelin star restaurants internationally, such as Waterside Inn and The Square in the UK, Kokkeriet and Søllerød Kro in Denmark.
We sat down with Ulrik to talk about his passion for French cuisine, his restaurant and asked what advice he would give for new chefs.
What inspired you to become a Chef?
After travelling to Provence with my family and seeing the food markets there, I knew I wanted to be a chef. Inspiration comes from the raw ingredients the seasons themselves. And also from the work that we do closely with the farmers and of course my team.
Where does the love for French cuisine come from?
It came from my first job as a commi in L’education National (Copenhagen). I came in the kitchen and smelled Boeuf Bourguignon… wow that was amazing!! And from that day, I started slowly cooking. First cassoulet, then ile flotant and all the big classics! So in other words smell threw me into being a chef!
France is a big country – how does French cuisine differ from one region to the other? Do you have any favorite regional ingredients or dishes?
That is a big question, it really differs from region to region of course. My personal favorite could be the south region if I have to bring one up. Provence has inspired me for years, especially with their asparagus from Cavaillon. Some others would be lemons from Côte d’Azur especially from Menton and Muscat grapes from Provence.
Do Norwegians have different food preferences than French people? What French dish or dishes do you think Norwegians would not enjoy?
Haven’t noticed that myself but our French restaurant has been taken in with open arms by the locals.
Tell us about Norwegian food – what ingredients and dishes stand out?
Tell us about your signature dishes- what makes them special?
I don’t believe in signature dishes as we learn and create [new items] every day.
How important are high-quality ingredients in creating an outstanding dish? Can you create an outstanding dish with mundane ingredients?
Very?! Impossible [to create an outstanding dish with mundane ingredients]!
What advice would you give someone who wants to become a Chef?
Be humble, work hard. Keep calm and focus!
Do you recommend a formal training (i.e. culinary school) for someone who wants to become a Chef?
I’ve seen both work well over the years, it’s all about the fill and the character.